Etiologic factors for pancreatic cancer, the 4th deadliest malignant neoplasm in the United States, include obesity and abnormal glucose metabolism. Calorie restriction (CR) and rapamycin each affect energy metabolism and cell survival pathways via inhibition of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling. By using a Panc02 murine pancreatic cancer cell transplant model in 45 male C57BL/6 mice, we tested the hypothesis that rapamycin mimics the effects of CR on pancreatic tumor growth. A chronic regimen of CR, relative to an ad libitum-fed control diet, produced global metabolic effects such as reduced body weight (20.6 ± 1.6 g vs. 29.3 ± 2.3 g; P < 0.0001), improved glucose responsiveness, and decreased circulating levels of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 (126 ± 8 ng/mL vs. 199 ± 11 ng/mL; P = 0.0006) and leptin (1.14 ± 0.2 ng/mL vs. 5.05 ± 1.2 ng/mL; P = 0.01). In contrast, rapamycin treatment (2.5 mg/kg intraperitoneal every other day, initiated in mice following 20 weeks of ad libitum control diet consumption), relative to control diet, produced no significant change in body weight, IGF-1 or leptin levels, but decreased glucose responsiveness. Pancreatic tumor volume was significantly reduced in the CR group (221 ± 107 mm(3); P < 0.001) and, to a lesser extent, the rapamycin group (374 ± 206 mm(3); P = 0.04) relative to controls (550 ± 147 mm(3)), and this differential inhibition correlated with expression of the proliferation marker Ki-67. Both CR and rapamycin decreased phosphorylation of mTOR, p70/S6K, and S6 ribosomal protein, but only CR decreased phosphorylation of Akt, GSK-3β, extracellular signal regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase, and STAT3(TYR705). These findings suggest that rapamycin partially mimics the anticancer effects of CR on tumor growth in a murine model of pancreatic cancer.
Conflict of interest statement
No potential conflicts of interest.