Uterine leiomyomata, or fibroids, are benign tumors of the uterine myometrium that significantly affect up to 30% of reproductive-age women. Despite being the primary cause of hysterectomy in the United States, accounting for up to 200,000 procedures annually, the etiology of leiomyoma remains largely unknown. As a basis for understanding leiomyoma pathogenesis and identifying targets for pharmacotherapy,we conducted transcriptional profiling of leiomyoma and unaffected myometrium from humans and Eker rats, the best characterized preclinical model of leiomyomata. A global comparison of mRNA from leiomyoma versus myometrium in human and rat identified a highly significant overlap of dysregulated gene expression in leiomyomata. An unbiased pathway analysis using a method of gene-set enrichment based on the sigPathway algorithm detected the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway as one of the most highly up-regulated pathways in both human and rat tumors. To validate this pathway as a therapeutic target for uterine leiomyomata, preclinical studies were conducted in Eker rats. These rats develop uterine leiomyomata as a consequence of loss of Tsc2 function and up-regulation of mTOR signaling. Inhibition of mTOR in female Eker rats with the rapamycin analogue WAY-129327 for 2 weeks decreased mTOR signaling and cell proliferation in tumors, and treatment for 4 months significantly decreased tumor incidence, multiplicity, and size. These results identify dysregulated mTOR signaling as a component of leiomyoma etiology across species and directly show the dependence of uterine leiomyomata with activated mTOR on this signaling pathway for growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research