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Resistance to docetaxel is a key problem in current prostate and breast cancer management. We have recently discovered a new molecular mechanism of prostate cancer docetaxel chemoresistance mediated by the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR)/sphingosine-kinase-1 (SK1) pathway. Here we investigated the influence of this pathway on vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) production and tumour vascularisation in hormone resistant prostate and breast cancer models. Immunofluorescent staining of tumour sections from human oestrogen receptor (ER)-negative breast cancer patients showed a strong correlation between phosphorylated P70S6 kinase (mTOR downstream target), VEGF and SK1 protein expression. In hormone-insensitive prostate (PC3) and breast (MDA-MB-231 and BT-549) cancer cell lines the mTOR inhibitor RAD001 (everolimus) has significantly inhibited SK1 and VEGF expression, while low dose (5 nM) docetaxel had no significant effect. In these cell lines, SK1 overexpression slightly increased the basal levels of VEGF, but did not block the inhibitory effect of RAD001 on VEGF. In a human prostate xenograft model established in nude mice, RAD001 alone or in combination with docetaxel has suppressed tumour growth, VEGF expression and decreased tumour vasculature. Overall, our data demonstrate a new mechanism of an independent regulation of SK1 and VEGF by mTOR in hormone-insensitive prostate and breast cancers.
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