Alternative rapamycin treatment regimens mitigate the impact of rapamycin on glucose homeostasis and the immune system

Aging Cell. 2016 Feb;15(1):28-38. doi: 10.1111/acel.12405. Epub 2015 Oct 13.


Inhibition of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway by the FDA-approved drug rapamycin has been shown to promote lifespan and delay age-related diseases in model organisms including mice. Unfortunately, rapamycin has potentially serious side effects in humans, including glucose intolerance and immunosuppression, which may preclude the long-term prophylactic use of rapamycin as a therapy for age-related diseases. While the beneficial effects of rapamycin are largely mediated by the inhibition of mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1), which is acutely sensitive to rapamycin, many of the negative side effects are mediated by the inhibition of a second mTOR-containing complex, mTORC2, which is much less sensitive to rapamycin. We hypothesized that different rapamycin dosing schedules or the use of FDA-approved rapamycin analogs with different pharmacokinetics might expand the therapeutic window of rapamycin by more specifically targeting mTORC1. Here, we identified an intermittent rapamycin dosing schedule with minimal effects on glucose tolerance, and we find that this schedule has a reduced impact on pyruvate tolerance, fasting glucose and insulin levels, beta cell function, and the immune system compared to daily rapamycin treatment. Further, we find that the FDA-approved rapamycin analogs everolimus and temsirolimus efficiently inhibit mTORC1 while having a reduced impact on glucose and pyruvate tolerance. Our results suggest that many of the negative side effects of rapamycin treatment can be mitigated through intermittent dosing or the use of rapamycin analogs.

Keywords: aging; mechanistic target of rapamycin; mice; rapamycin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects*
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Glucose Intolerance / drug therapy
  • Homeostasis / drug effects*
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • Sirolimus / administration & dosage
  • Sirolimus / adverse effects*
  • Sirolimus / analogs & derivatives
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • temsirolimus
  • Sirolimus