The microbiome in cancer immunotherapy: Diagnostic tools and therapeutic strategies

Science. 2018 Mar 23;359(6382):1366-1370. doi: 10.1126/science.aar6918.


The fine line between human health and disease can be driven by the interplay between host and microbial factors. This "metagenome" regulates cancer initiation, progression, and response to therapies. Besides the capacity of distinct microbial species to modulate the pharmacodynamics of chemotherapeutic drugs, symbiosis between epithelial barriers and their microbial ecosystems has a major impact on the local and distant immune system, markedly influencing clinical outcome in cancer patients. Efficacy of cancer immunotherapy with immune checkpoint antibodies can be diminished with administration of antibiotics, and superior efficacy is observed with the presence of specific gut microbes. Future strategies of precision medicine will likely rely on novel diagnostic and therapeutic tools with which to identify and correct defects in the microbiome that compromise therapeutic efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immune System
  • Immunotherapy / methods*
  • Metagenome
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome