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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 103830, 10 pages
Research Article

Enhanced Antitumor Activity with Combining Effect of mTOR Inhibition and Microtubule Stabilization in Hepatocellular Carcinoma

1Department of Clinical Oncology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
2Cancer Drug Testing Unit, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Hong Kong Cancer Institute and Li Ka Shing Institute of Health Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
3Department of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA

Received 20 November 2012; Accepted 4 January 2013

Academic Editor: Bin Lu

Copyright © 2013 Qian Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the microtubules are shown to be potential targets for treating hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). PI3K/Akt/mTOR activation is associated with resistance to microtubule inhibitors. Here, we evaluated the antitumor activity by cotargeting of the mTOR (using allosteric mTOR inhibitor everolimus) and the microtubules (using novel microtubule-stabilizing agent patupilone) in HCC models. In vitro studies showed that either targeting mTOR signaling with everolimus or targeting microtubules with patupilone was able to suppress HCC cell growth in a dose-dependent manner. Cotargeting of the mTOR (by everolimus) and the microtubules (by patupilone, at low nM) resulted in enhanced growth inhibition in HCC cells (achieving maximal growth inhibition of 60–87%), demonstrating potent antitumor activity of this combination. In vivo studies showed that everolimus treatment alone for two weeks was able to inhibit the growth of Hep3B xenografts. Strikingly, the everolimus/patupilone combination induced a more significant antitumor activity. Mechanistic study demonstrated that this enhanced antitumor effect was accompanied by marked cell apoptosis induction and antiangiogenic activity, which were more significant than single-agent treatments. Our findings demonstrated that the everolimus/patupilone combination, which had potent antitumor activity, was a potential therapeutic strategy for HCC.