Breast Cancer Research and Treatment

, Volume 131, Issue 2, pp 425–436 | Cite as

The effect of mTOR inhibition alone or combined with MEK inhibitors on brain metastasis: an in vivo analysis in triple-negative breast cancer models

  • Hong Zhao
  • Kemi Cui
  • Fang Nie
  • Lulu Wang
  • Miriam B. Brandl
  • Guangxu Jin
  • Fuhai Li
  • Yong Mao
  • Zhong Xue
  • Angel Rodriguez
  • Jenny Chang
  • Stephen T. C. WongEmail author
Preclinical study


mTOR inhibitor rapamycin and its analogs are lipophilic, demonstrate blood–brain barrier penetration, and have shown promising antitumor effects in several types of refractory tumors. We thus try to explore the therapeutic effects of mTOR inhibitors on brain metastasis models. We examined the effects of different dose of mTOR inhibitors (rapamycin, Temsirolimus-CCI-779) on cell invasion in two brain metastatic breast cancer cell lines (MDA-MB231-BR and CN34-BrM2). Antibody microarray and immunoblotting were applied to detect signaling pathways underlying the dose differential drug effects. The in vivo effects of single drug (CCI-779), and drug combination of CCI-779 with SL327 (a brain penetrant MEK inhibitor) to eliminate the unfavorable activation of MAPK pathway were evaluated in MDA-MB231-BR brain metastases xenograft mice. The two mTOR inhibitors, rapamycin and CCI-779, inhibited the invasion of brain metastatic cells only at a moderate concentration level, which was lost at higher concentrations secondary to activation of the MAPK signaling pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of ERK1/2 by PD98059 and SL327 restored the anti-invasion effects of mTOR inhibition in vitro. In vivo, a significant decrease was noted in the average number of micro and large metastatic lesions as well as the whole brain GFP expression in the CCI-779 1 mg/kg/day treated group compared with that in the vehicle group (P < 0.05). However, 10 mg/kg CCI-779 treatment did not show significant anti-metastasis effect on the animal model. High-dose CCI-779 eliciting the ERK MAPK activation in the brain metastatic lesion was corroborated. Combined with the brain penetrant MEK inhibitor SL327, high-dose CCI-779 significantly reduces the brain metastasis, and the combination treatment prohibited perivascular invasion of tumor cells and inhibits tumor angiogenesis in vivo. This study provides evidence on the potential value of CCI-779 as well as CCI-779 + SL327 in prohibiting breast cancer brain metastasis.


CCI-779 SL327 Brain metastasis Triple-negative breast cancer 



This research is funded by NIH U54 CA149196, NIH R01 CA139976, NIH R01 CA121225, and John S Dunn Foundation grant to STCW.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

10549_2011_1420_MOESM1_ESM.docx (389 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 389 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hong Zhao
    • 1
  • Kemi Cui
    • 1
  • Fang Nie
    • 1
  • Lulu Wang
    • 1
  • Miriam B. Brandl
    • 1
  • Guangxu Jin
    • 1
  • Fuhai Li
    • 1
  • Yong Mao
    • 1
  • Zhong Xue
    • 1
  • Angel Rodriguez
    • 2
  • Jenny Chang
    • 2
  • Stephen T. C. Wong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departments of Radiology and Pathology, Medical Systems Biology Laboratory, Bioengineering and Bioinformatics Program, The Methodist Hospital Research InstituteWeill Medical College, Cornell UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Methodist Cancer Center, The Methodist HospitalWeill Medical College, Cornell UniversityHoustonUSA

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