Purpose: Altered PI3K/mTOR signaling is implicated in the pathogenesis of a number of breast cancers, including those resistant to hormonal and HER2-targeted therapies.
Experimental design: The activity of four classes of PI3K/mTOR inhibitory molecules, including a pan-PI3K inhibitor (NVP-BKM120), a p110α isoform-specific PI3K inhibitor (NVP-BYL719), an mTORC1-specific inhibitor (NVP-RAD001), and a dual PI3K/mTORC1/2 inhibitor (NVP-BEZ235), was evaluated both in vitro and in vivo against a panel of 48 human breast cell lines.
Results: Each agent showed significant antiproliferative activity in vitro, particularly in luminal estrogen receptor-positive and/or HER2(+) cell lines harboring PI3K mutations. In addition, monotherapy with each of the four inhibitors led to significant inhibition of in vivo growth in HER2(+) breast cancer models. The PI3K/mTOR pathway inhibitors were also effective in overcoming both de novo and acquired trastuzumab resistance in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, combined targeting of HER2 and PI3K/mTOR leads to increased apoptosis in vitro and induction of tumor regression in trastuzumab-resistant xenograft models. Finally, as previously shown, targeting mTORC1 alone with RAD001 leads to consistent feedback activation of AKT both in vitro and in vivo, whereas the dual mTOR1-2/PI3K inhibitor BEZ235 eliminates this feedback loop. However, despite these important signaling differences, both molecules are equally effective in inhibiting tumor cell proliferation both in vitro and in vivo.
Conclusion: These preclinical data support the findings of the BOLERO 3 trial that shows that targeting of the PI3K/mTOR pathway in combination with trastuzumab is beneficial in trastuzumab-resistant breast cancer.
©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.