Therapeutic management of gastroenteropancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (GEP-NETs) is challenging. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor everolimus recently obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (pNETs). Despite its promising antitumor efficacy observed in cell lines, clinical benefit for patients is unsatisfactory. The limited therapeutic potential of everolimus in cancer cells has been attributed to Akt activation due to feedback loops relief following mTOR inhibition. Combined inhibition of Akt might then improve everolimus antitumoral effect. In this regard, the somatostatin analog (SSA) octreotide has been shown to repress the PI3K/Akt pathway in some tumor cell lines. Moreover, SSAs are well tolerated and routinely used to reduce symptoms caused by peptide release in patients carrying functional GEP-NETs. We have recently established and characterized primary cultures of human pNETs and demonstrated the anti-proliferative effects of both octreotide and pasireotide. In this study, we aim at determining the antitumor efficacy of everolimus alone or in combination with the SSAs octreotide and pasireotide in primary cultures of pNETs. Everolimus reduced both Chromogranin A secretion and cell viability and upregulated Akt activity in single treatment. Its anti-proliferative and anti-secretory efficacy was not improved combined with the SSAs. Both SSAs did not overcome everolimus-induced Akt upregulation. Furthermore, caspase-dependent apoptosis induced by SSAs was lost in combined treatments. These molecular events provide the first evidence supporting the lack of marked benefit in patients co-treated with everolimus and SSA.
Keywords: co-treatment; everolimus; human pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors; primary culture; somatostatin analogs.