Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2021 Apr 26:AAC.00253-21. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00253-21. Online ahead of print.
Efforts to develop more effective and shorter-course therapies for tuberculosis have included a focus on host-directed therapy (HDT). The goal of HDT is to modulate the host response to infection, thereby improving immune defenses to reduce the duration of antibacterial therapy and/or the amount of lung damage. As a mediator of innate and adaptive immune responses involved in eliminating intracellular pathogens, autophagy is a potential target for HDT in tuberculosis. Because Mycobacterium tuberculosis modulates mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling to impede autophagy, pharmacologic mTOR inhibition could provide effective HDT. mTOR exists within two distinct multiprotein complexes, mTOR complex-1 (mTORC1) and mTOR complex-2 (mTORC2). Rapamycin and its analogs only partially inhibit mTORC1. We hypothesized that novel mTOR kinase inhibitors blocking both complexes would have expanded therapeutic potential. We compared the effects of two mTOR inhibitors: rapamycin and the orally available mTOR kinase domain inhibitor CC214-2, which blocks both mTORC1 and mTORC2, as adjunctive therapies against murine TB, when added to the first-line regimen (RHZE) or the novel bedaquiline-pretomanid-linezolid (BPaL) regimen. Neither mTOR inhibitor affected lung CFU counts after 4-8 weeks of treatment when combined with BPaL or RHZE. However, addition of CC214-2 to BPaL and RHZE was associated with significantly fewer relapses in C3HeB/FeJ compared to addition of rapamycin and, in RHZE-treated mice, resulted in fewer relapses compared to RHZE alone. Therefore, CC214-2 and related mTOR kinase inhibitors may be more effective candidates for HDT than rapamycin analogs and may have the potential to shorten the duration of TB treatment.