Rapamycin downregulates thymidylate synthase and potentiates the activity of pemetrexed in non-small cell lung cancer.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) accounts for 80-85% of lung cancer cases, and almost half of newly diagnosed patients have metastatic disease. Pemetrexed is a widely used drug for NSCLC and inhibits several folate-dependent enzymes including thymidylate synthase (TS). Increased expression of TS confers resistance to pemetrexed in vitro and predicts poor response to pemetrexed. Rapamycin is an mTOR inhibitor and suppresses cap-dependent synthesis of specific mRNA species. Here, we show that the combination of rapamycin and pemetrexed synergistically inhibits proliferation of NSCLC cells. Although pemetrexed as a single agent induced TS, pretreatment with rapamycin suppressed pemetrexed-induced TS expression. In vivo, the combination of rapamycin and pemetrexed inhibited growth of NSCLC xenografts, which correlated with decreased mTOR activity and suppression of pemetrexed-induced TS expression. The ability of rapamycin to enhance the efficacy of pemetrexed and prevent TS expression has implications for the design of Phase I and/or Phase II NSCLC clinical trials with mTOR inhibitors in combination with pemetrexed.
Kawabata, Shigeru; Chiang, Chun-Te; Tsurutani, Junji; Shiga, Hideaki; Arwood, Matthew L; Komiya, Takefumi MD; Gills, Joell J; Memmott, Regan M; and Dennis, Phillip A, "Rapamycin downregulates thymidylate synthase and potentiates the activity of pemetrexed in non-small cell lung cancer." (2014). Oncology. 26.