Rapamycin increases the yield and effector function of human γδ T cells stimulated in vitro

Cancer Immunol Immunother. 2011 Mar;60(3):361-70. doi: 10.1007/s00262-010-0945-7. Epub 2010 Nov 25.


Clinical strategies to exploit Vγ2Vδ2 T cell responses for immunotherapy are confronted with short-term increases in cell levels or activity and the development of anergy that reduces the response to therapy with succeeding treatments. We are exploring strategies to increase the yield and durability of elicited Vγ2Vδ2 T cell responses. One approach focuses on the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which is important for regulating T cell metabolism and function. In Vγ2Vδ2 T cells, mTOR phosphorylates the S6K1 and eIF4EBP1 signaling intermediates after antigen stimulation. Rapamycin inhibited these phosphorylation events without impacting Akt or Erk activation, even though specific inhibition of Akt or Erk in turn reduced the activation of mTOR. The effects of rapamycin on the T cell receptor signaling pathway lead to increased proliferation of treated and antigen-exposed Vγ2Vδ2 cells. Rapamycin altered the phenotype of antigen-specific Vγ2Vδ2 cells by inducing a population shift from CD62L + CD69- to CD62L-CD69+, higher expression of CD25 or Bcl-2, lower levels of CCR5 and increased resistance to Fas-mediated cellular apoptosis. These changes were consistent with rapamycin promoting cell activation while decreasing the susceptibility to cell death that might occur by CCR5 or Fas signaling. Rapamycin treatment during antigen-stimulation of Vγ2Vδ2 T cells may be a strategy for overcoming current obstacles in tumor immunotherapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic / pharmacology*
  • Antigen-Presenting Cells / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2 / metabolism
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta / metabolism
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism


  • Antibiotics, Antineoplastic
  • IL2RA protein, human
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-bcl-2
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell, gamma-delta
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • MTOR protein, human
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Sirolimus