The synergistic effect of an ATP-competitive inhibitor of mTOR and metformin on pancreatic tumor growth

Ghada A. Soliman, Surendra K. Shukla, Asserewou Etekpo, Venugopal Gunda, Sharalyn M. Steenson, Nagsen Gautam, Yazen Alnouti, Pankaj K. Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) is a nutrient-sensing pathway and a key regulator of amino acid and glucose metabolism. Dysregulation of the mTOR pathways is implicated in the pathogenesis of metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and pancreatic cancer. Objectives: We investigated the impact of inhibition of mTORC1/mTORC2 and synergism with metformin on pancreatic tumor growth and metabolomics. Methods: Cell lines derived from pancreatic tumors of the KPC (KrasG12D/+; p53R172H/+; Pdx1-Cre) transgenic mice model were implanted into the pancreas of C57BL/6 albino mice (n = 10/group). Two weeks later, the mice were injected intraperitoneally with daily doses of 1) Torin 2 (mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitor) at a high concentration (TH), 2) Torin 2 at a low concentration (TL), 3) metformin at a low concentration (ML), 4) a combination of Torin 2 and metformin at low concentrations (TLML), or 5) DMSO vehicle (control) for 12 d. Tissues and blood samples were collected for targeted xenometabolomics analysis, drug concentration, and cell signaling. Results: Metabolomic analysis of the control and treated plasma samples showed differential metabolite profiles. Phenylalanine was significantly elevated in the TLML group compared with the control (+426%, P = 0.0004), whereas uracil was significantly lower (-38%, P = 0.009). The combination treatment reduced tumor growth in the orthotopic mouse model. TLML significantly decreased pancreatic tumor volume (498 ± 104 mm3; 37%; P < 0.0004) compared with control (1326 ± 134 mm3; 100%), ML (853 ± 67 mm3; 64%), TL (745 ± 167 mm3; 54%), and TH (665 ± 182 mm3; 50%) (ANOVA and post hoc tests). TLML significantly decreased tumor weights (0.66 ± 0.08 g; 52%) compared with the control (1.28 ± 0.19 g; 100%) (P < 0.002). Conclusions: The combination of mTOR dual inhibition by Torin 2 and metformin is associated with an altered metabolomic profile and a significant reduction in pancreatic tumor burden compared with single-agent therapy, and it is better tolerated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020


  • Antidiabetic drug
  • Glycolysis
  • KPC mouse model
  • Metabolomics
  • Metformin
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tricarboxylic acid cycle
  • Xenometabolomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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