Inhibition of mTOR in carcinoid tumors
- First Online:
- 447 Downloads
Neuroendocrine neoplasms (NEN) are a heterogeneous group of tumors, whose incidence and prevalence are increasing. The clinical behavior of NEN is variable, ranging from well-differentiated slow growing tumors to highly aggressive poorly differentiated neuroendocrine carcinomas. The term carcinoid is commonly used for the more benign variants of these neoplasms. Most frequently, carcinoids have their origin in the small intestine, followed by in the lung and other sites. Some of these tumors are associated with the carcinoid syndrome. The use of somatostatin analogs has revolutionized the clinical management of patients with carcinoids. However, although symptomatic relief and stabilization of tumor growth for various periods of time are observed in many patients treated with somatostatin analogs, tumor regression is rare. Currently, there is no other powerful antiproliferative agent available for carcinoids. Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), a main protein kinase in the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt/p70S6K signaling pathway, is an important intracellular mediator involved in multiple cellular functions including proliferation, differentiation, apoptosis, tumorigenesis, and angiogenesis. Alterations of the normal activity of mTOR and of mTOR-related kinases in this pathway have been found in a diversity of human tumors, including NEN; therefore, mTOR pathway represents an attractive target for new anticancer therapies. While mTOR inhibitors, such as everolimus, are established therapy in pancreatic NEN, results from recent clinical trials indicate that mTOR inhibitors may be also of value in the management of carcinoids. However, further clinical trials will have to confirm efficacy and elucidate, in which subtypes and in which setting, these drugs might be most usefully applied.