As one of the earliest examples of "chemical biology," the M: echanistic T: arget of R: apamycin (mTOR) protein and its chemical inhibitors have been extensively studied across a spectrum of physiologic and pathologic processes at the molecular, organismal, and patient population levels. There are several FDA-approved mTOR inhibitors (sirolimus, everolimus, and temsirolimus) with indications for cancer treatment and for prevention of solid organ rejection. Dozens of mTOR inhibitors are currently being evaluated in hundreds of ongoing clinical trials across a spectrum of diseases, including numerous cancer indications, autoimmune diseases, and a number of congenital disorders. As many of the approved and investigational indications for mTOR inhibitors require long-term treatment, the magnitude and incidence of particular side effects differ from those observed in shorter-term treatments. Here, we focus on the increased risk of infections in patients being treated with mTOR inhibitors. While increased infection rates might be expected from a class of drugs approved as posttransplant immunosuppressants, we review reports from clinical, mechanistic, and genetically engineered mouse model studies detailing a much more nuanced view of mTOR inhibitor drug action and target biology.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.