Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(1):137-149. doi:10.7150/ijms.48393 This issue

Research Paper

Comparing mTOR inhibitor Rapamycin with Torin-2 within the RIST molecular-targeted regimen in neuroblastoma cells

Rebecca Waetzig, Marie Matthes, Johannes Leister, Gina Penkivech, Tilman Heise, Selim Corbacioglu, Gunhild Sommer

Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplantation, University Hospital of Regensburg, Franz-Josef-Strauss Allee 11, 93053, Regensburg, Germany.

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Waetzig R, Matthes M, Leister J, Penkivech G, Heise T, Corbacioglu S, Sommer G. Comparing mTOR inhibitor Rapamycin with Torin-2 within the RIST molecular-targeted regimen in neuroblastoma cells. Int J Med Sci 2021; 18(1):137-149. doi:10.7150/ijms.48393. Available from

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The prognosis for patients with relapsed or refractory high-risk neuroblastoma remains dismal and novel therapeutic options are urgently needed. The RIST treatment protocol has a multimodal metronomic therapy design combining molecular-targeted drugs (Rapamycin and Dasatinib) with chemotherapy backbone (Irinotecan and Temozolomide), which is currently verified in a phase II clinical trial (NCT01467986). With the availability of novel and more potent ATP competitive mTOR inhibitors, we expect to improve the RIST combination therapy. By comparing the IC50 values of Torin-1, Torin-2, AZD3147 and PP242 we established that only Torin-2 inhibited cell viability of all three MycN-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines tested at nanomolar concentration. Single treatment of both mTOR inhibitors induced a significant G1 cell cycle arrest and combination treatment with Dasatinib reduced the expression of cell cycle regulator cyclin D1 or increased the expression of cell cycle inhibitor p21. The combinatorial index depicted for both mTOR inhibitors a synergistic effect with Dasatinib. Interestingly, compared to Rapamycin, the combination treatment with Torin-2 resulted in a broader mTOR pathway inhibition as indicated by reduced phosphorylation of AKT (Thr308, Ser473), 4E-BP (Ser65), and S6K (Thr389). Furthermore, substituting Rapamycin in the modified multimodal RIST protocol with Torin-2 reduced cell viability and induced apoptosis despite a significant lower Torin-2 drug concentration applied. The efficacy of nanomolar concentrations may significantly reduce unwanted immunosuppression associated with Rapamycin. However, at this point we cannot rule out that Torin-2 has increased toxicity due to its potency in more complex systems. Nonetheless, our results suggest that including Torin-2 as a substitute for Rapamycin in the RIST protocol may represent a valid option to be evaluated in prospective clinical trials for relapsed or treatment-refractory high-risk neuroblastoma.

Keywords: mTOR inhibitor, Torin-2, Rapamycin, neuroblastoma, ATP competitive mTOR inhibitors, combination therapy