Vascular tumors have increased p70 S6-kinase activation and are inhibited by topical rapamycin

Wa Du, Damien Gerald, Carole A. Perruzzi, Paul Rodriguez-Waitkus, Ladan Enayati, Bhuvaneswari Krishnan, Joseph Edmonds, Marcelo L. Hochman, Dina C. Lev, Thuy L. Phung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Vascular tumors are endothelial cell neoplasms whose cellular and molecular mechanisms, leading to tumor formation, are poorly understood, and current therapies have limited efficacy with significant side effects. We have investigated mechanistic (mammalian) target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling in benign and malignant vascular tumors, and the effects of mTOR kinase inhibitor as a potential therapy for these lesions. Human vascular tumors (infantile hemangioma and angiosarcoma) were analyzed by immunohistochemical stains and western blot for the phosphorylation of p70 S6-kinase (S6K) and S6 ribosomal protein (S6), which are activated downstream of mTOR complex-1 (mTORC1). To assess the function of S6K, tumor cells with genetic knockdown of S6K were analyzed for cell proliferation and migration. The effects of topical rapamycin, an mTOR inhibitor, on mTORC1 and mTOR complex-2 (mTORC2) activities, as well as on tumor growth and migration, were determined. Vascular tumors showed increased activation of S6K and S6. Genetic knockdown of S6K resulted in reduced tumor cell proliferation and migration. Rapamycin fully inhibited mTORC1 and partially inhibited mTORC2 activities, including the phosphorylation of Akt (serine 473) and PKCα, in vascular tumor cells. Rapamycin significantly reduced vascular tumor growth in vitro and in vivo. As a potential localized therapy for cutaneous vascular tumors, topically applied rapamycin effectively reduced tumor growth with limited systemic drug absorption. These findings reveal the importance of mTOR signaling pathways in benign and malignant vascular tumors. The mTOR pathway is an important therapeutic target in vascular tumors, and topical mTOR inhibitors may provide an alternative and well-tolerated therapy for the treatment of cutaneous vascular lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1115-1127
Number of pages13
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • S6-kinase
  • angiogenesis
  • mTOR
  • rapamycin
  • vascular tumors


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