Microbiota as a mediator of cancer progression and therapy

Transl Res. 2017 Jan:179:139-154. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2016.07.021. Epub 2016 Aug 3.


Complex and intricate circuitries regulate cellular proliferation, survival, and growth, and alterations of this network through genetic and epigenetic events result in aberrant cellular behaviors, often leading to carcinogenesis. Although specific germline mutations have been recognized as cancer inducers, the vast majority of neoplastic changes in humans occur through environmental exposure, lifestyle, and diet. An emerging concept in cancer biology implicates the microbiota as a powerful environmental factor modulating the carcinogenic process. For example, the intestinal microbiota influences cancer development or therapeutic responses through specific activities (immune responses, metabolites, microbial structures, and toxins). The numerous effects of microbiota on carcinogenesis, ranging from promoting, preventing, or even influencing therapeutic outcomes, highlight the complex relationship between the biota and the host. In this review, we discuss the latest findings on this complex microbial interaction with the host and highlight potential mechanisms by which the microbiota mediates such a wide impact on carcinogenesis.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carcinogenesis / pathology
  • Diet
  • Disease Progression*
  • Dysbiosis / immunology
  • Dysbiosis / microbiology
  • Dysbiosis / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*