Anticancer effects of the microbiome and its products

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2017 Aug;15(8):465-478. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.44. Epub 2017 May 22.


The human gut microbiome modulates many host processes, including metabolism, inflammation, and immune and cellular responses. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the microbiome can also influence the development of cancer. In preclinical models, the host response to cancer treatment has been improved by modulating the gut microbiome; this is known to have an altered composition in many diseases, including cancer. In addition, cancer treatment with microbial agents or their products has the potential to shrink tumours. However, the microbiome could also negatively influence cancer prognosis through the production of potentially oncogenic toxins and metabolites by bacteria. Thus, future antineoplastic treatments could combine the modulation of the microbiome and its products with immunotherapeutics and more conventional approaches that directly target malignant cells.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Neoplasms / therapy*