The activity of mTOR inhibitor RAD001 (everolimus) in nasopharyngeal carcinoma and cisplatin-resistant cell lines

Brigette B.Y. Ma, Vivian W.Y. Lui, Edwin P. Hui, Cecilia P.Y. Lau, Kakiu Ho, Margaret H.L. Ng, S. H. Cheng, Sai Wah Tsao, Anthony T.C. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Phosphorylated (pi-) protein kinase B (AKT) is commonly expressed in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cell lines and tissues, suggesting the involvement of AKT-mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in NPC carcinogenesis. This study evaluated the activity of an mTOR inhibitor, RAD001 (Everolimus, Novartis Pharma AG, Switzerland), in 5 NPC cell lines (HK1, HONE-1, CNE-1, CNE-2, C666-1), 2 cisplatin-resistant NPC cell lines and their respective parental cell lines (HK1-LMP1, HONE-1-EBV). RAD001 inhibited cell growth in a dose-dependent manner at nanomolar concentrations in all cell lines. HONE-1 was most sensitive to RAD001 (IC50=0.63 nM, 60% maximal inhibition), while Het-1A (a normal esophageal epithelial cell line) was relatively resistant. No consistent relationship between sensitivity to RAD001 and basal expression of pi-mTOR and pi-p70S6 Kinase-1 (p70S6K) was found. Exposure to RAD001 at picomolar concentrations for 48 h resulted in reduction of pi-mTOR and pip70S6K1 expression, but increase in pi-AKT (Ser473) expression in HONE-1 and CNE-1 cell lines. RAD001 significantly induced apoptosis in HONE-1 cells, but has no effect on cell cycle progression. RAD001 exerted an additive to synergistic effect on cisplatin-induced growth inhibition in CNE-1 and HONE-1 cells, and could inhibit the growth of both cisplatin-resistant and cisplatin-sensitive NPC cell lines. In summary, combination of RAD001 and cisplatin maybe a useful therapeutic strategy in NPC. AKT upregulation following RAD001 treatment suggests the presence of a feedback loop on AKT signaling in NPC which warrants further investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)413-420
Number of pages8
JournalInvestigational New Drugs
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • AKT
  • Nasopharyngeal carcinoma
  • RAD001 (everolimus)
  • mTOR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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