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Commensal Bacteria Control Cancer Response to Therapy by Modulating the Tumor Microenvironment

Science  22 Nov 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6161, pp. 967-970
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240527

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The Microbiota Makes for Good Therapy

The gut microbiota has been implicated in the development of some cancers, such as colorectal cancer, but—given the important role our intestinal habitants play in metabolism—they may also modulate the efficacy of certain cancer therapeutics. Iida et al. (p. 967) evaluated the impact of the microbiota on the efficacy of an immunotherapy [CpG (the cytosine, guanosine, phosphodiester link) oligonucleotides] and oxaliplatin, a platinum compound used as a chemotherapeutic. Both therapies were reduced in efficacy in tumor-bearing mice that lacked microbiota, with the microbiota important for activating the innate immune response against the tumors. Viaud et al. (p. 971) found a similar effect of the microbiota on tumor-bearing mice treated with cyclophosphamide, but in this case it appeared that the microbiota promoted an adaptive immune response against the tumors.

Abstract

The gut microbiota influences both local and systemic inflammation. Inflammation contributes to development, progression, and treatment of cancer, but it remains unclear whether commensal bacteria affect inflammation in the sterile tumor microenvironment. Here, we show that disruption of the microbiota impairs the response of subcutaneous tumors to CpG-oligonucleotide immunotherapy and platinum chemotherapy. In antibiotics-treated or germ-free mice, tumor-infiltrating myeloid-derived cells responded poorly to therapy, resulting in lower cytokine production and tumor necrosis after CpG-oligonucleotide treatment and deficient production of reactive oxygen species and cytotoxicity after chemotherapy. Thus, optimal responses to cancer therapy require an intact commensal microbiota that mediates its effects by modulating myeloid-derived cell functions in the tumor microenvironment. These findings underscore the importance of the microbiota in the outcome of disease treatment.

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