Targeting the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin module for acute myelogenous leukemia therapy: From bench to bedside

Alberto M. Martelli, P. L. Tazzari, C. Evangelisti, F. Chiarini, W. L. Blalock, A. M. Billi, L. Manzoli, J. A. McCubrey, L. Cocco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (P13K)/Akt (protein kinase B, PKB)/ mammalian Target Of Rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway plays a critical role in many cellular functions which are elicited by extracellular stimuli. However constitutively active P13K/Akt/mTOR signaling has also been firmly established as a major determinant for cell growth, proliferation, and survival in an wide array of human cancers. Thus, blocking the P13K/AKT/mTOR signal transduction network could be an effective new strategy for targeted anticancer therapy. Pharmacological inhibitors of this signaling cascade are powerful antineoplastic agents i i and in xenografted models of tumors, and some of them are now being tested in clinical trials. Recent studies showed that P13K/Akt/mTOR axis is frequently activated in acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patient blasts and strongly contributes to proliferation, survival, and drug-resistance of these cells. Both the disease-free, survival and overall survival are significantly shorter in AML cases with P13K/Akt/ mTOR upregulation. Therefore, this signal transduction cascade may represent a target for innovative therapeutic treatments of AML patients. In this review, we discuss the possible mechanisms of activation of this pathway in AML cells and the downstream molecular targets of the P13K/Akt/mTOR signaling network which are important for blocking apoptosis, enhancing proliferation, and promoting drug-resistance of leukemic cells. We also highlight several pharmacological inhibitors which have been used to block this pathway for targeted therapy of AML. These small molecules induce apoptosis or sensitize AML cells to existing drugs, and might be used in the future for improving the outcome of this hematological disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2009-2023
Number of pages15
JournalCurrent Medicinal Chemistry
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • Akt
  • Apoptosis
  • Clinical trial
  • Drug resistance
  • Inositol lipids
  • Leukemia
  • Signal transduction
  • Targeted molecular therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Organic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Pharmacology


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