The Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway is important for both cell growth and survival. In particular, an impaired regulation of the Akt/mTOR axis has been strongly implicated in mechanisms related to neoplastic transformation, through enhancement of cell proliferation and survival. Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of heterogeneous hematopoietic stem cell disorders characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis and by a high risk of evolution into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). The pathogenesis of the MDS evolution into AML is still unclear, although some recent studies indicate that aberrant activation of survival signaling pathways could be involved. In this investigation, done by means of immunofluorescent staining, we report an activation of the Akt/mTOR pathway in high-risk MDS patients. Interestingly, not only mTOR was activated but also its downstream targets, 4E-binding protein 1 and p70 ribosomal S6 kinase. Treatment with the selective mTOR inhibitor, rapamycin, significantly increased apoptotic cell death of CD33+ (but not CD33-) cells from high-risk MDS patients. Rapamycin was ineffective in cells from healthy donors or low-risk MDS. Moreover, incubation of high-risk MDS patient CD34+ cells with rapamycin decreased the in vitro clonogenic capability of these cells. In contrast, the phosphoinositide 3-kinase inhibitor, LY294002, did not significantly affect the clonogenic activity of high-risk MDS cells. Taken together, our results indicate that the Akt/mTOR pathway is critical for cell survival and proliferation in high-risk MDS patients. Therefore, this signaling network could become an interesting therapeutic target for treating more advanced MDS cases.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research