The mTOR Signalling Pathway in Cancer and the Potential mTOR Inhibitory Activities of Natural Phytochemicals


The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) kinase plays an important role in regulating cell growth and cell cycle progression in response to cellular signals. It is a key regulator of cell proliferation and many upstream activators and downstream effectors of mTOR are known to be deregulated in various types of cancers. Since the mTOR signalling pathway is commonly activated in human cancers, many researchers are actively developing inhibitors that target key components in the pathway and some of these drugs are already on the market.Numerous preclinical investigations have also suggested that some herbs and natural phytochemicals, such as curcumin, resveratrol, timosaponin III, gallic acid, diosgenin, pomegranate, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCC), genistein and 3,3’-diindolylmethane inhibit the mTOR pathway either directly or indirectly. Some of these natural compounds are also in the clinical trial stage. In this review, the potential anti-cancer and chemopreventive activities and the current status of clinical trials of these phytochemicals are discussed.