Combined targeting of AKT and mTOR using MK-2206 and RAD001 is synergistic in the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma


Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA) is a rare, but devastating disease arising from the epithelium of intrahepatic and extrahepatic bile ducts. There are neither effective systemic therapies nor satisfying treatment options for inoperable CCA. Histopathological and biochemical studies of CCA show frequent dysregulation of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/AKT/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway. Therefore, we investigated the efficacy of the mTOR inhibitor RAD001 and the impact of AKT signaling following mTOR inhibition in the treatment of CCA. RAD001 significantly inhibits proliferation of CCA cell lines, however, a concentration-dependent and isoform specific feedback activation of the three AKT isoforms (AKT1, AKT2 and AKT3) was observed after mTOR inhibition. As activation of AKT might limit the RAD001-mediated anti-tumor effect, the efficacy of combined mTOR and AKT inhibition was investigated using the allosteric AKT inhibitor MK-2206. Our results show that inhibition of AKT potentiates the efficacy of mTOR inhibition both in vitro and in a xenograft mouse model in vivo. Mechanistically, the antiproliferative effect of the pan-AKT inhibitor MK2206 in the CCA cell line TFK-1 was due to inhibition of AKT1 and AKT2, because knockdown of either AKT1 or AKT2, but not AKT3, showed a synergistic reduction of cell proliferation in combination with mTOR treatment. Finally, using an AKT isoform specific in vitro kinase assay, enzymatic activity of each of the three AKT isoforms was detected in all tissue samples from CCA patients, analyzed. In summary, our preclinical data suggest that combined targeting of mTOR and AKT using RAD001 and MK-2206 might be a new, effective strategy for the treatment of CCA.

Bibliographical data

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 01.11.2013
PubMed 23588885