• Open Access

Efficacy of everolimus, a novel mTOR inhibitor, against basal-like triple-negative breast cancer cells


To whom correspondence should be addressed.

E-mail: ketamura@ncc.go.jp


Patients with triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) typically have a poor prognosis because such cancers have no effective therapeutic targets, such as estrogen receptors for endocrine therapy or human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) receptors for anti-HER2 therapy. As the phosphatidylinositol 3′ kinase (PI3K)/Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) cascade is activated in TNBCs, mTOR is a potential molecular target for anticancer therapy. In this study, we investigated the antitumor activities of everolimus, an oral mTOR inhibitor, in nine TNBC cell lines. Everolimus effectively inhibited cell growth at concentrations under 100 nM (IC50) in five cell lines and even in the 1-nM range in three of the five cell lines. To identify specific characteristics that could be used as predictive markers of efficacy, we evaluated the expressions of proteins in the mTOR cascade, basal markers, and cancer stem cell markers using western blotting, fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH), or immunohistochemistry. All five of the sensitive cell lines were categorized as a basal-like subtype positive for either epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) or CK5/6, although resistant cell lines were not of this subtype and tended to exhibit the characteristics of cancer stem cells, with decreased E-cadherin and the increased expression of Snail or Twist. In vivo assays demonstrated antitumor activity in a mouse xenograft model of basal-like breast cancer, rather than non-basal breast cancer. These results suggest that everolimus has favorable activity against basal-like subtypes of TNBCs. Epidermal growth factor receptor and CK5/6 are positive predictive markers of the TNBC response to everolimus, while cancer stem cell markers are negative predictive markers.