Smectite promotes probiotic biofilm formation in the gut for cancer immunotherapy

Cell Rep. 2021 Feb 9;34(6):108706. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.108706.


Administration of probiotics to regulate the immune system is a potential anti-tumor strategy. However, oral administration of probiotics is ineffective because of the poor inhabitation of exogenous bacteria in host intestines. Here we report that smectite, a type of mineral clay and established anti-diarrhea drug, promotes expansion of probiotics (especially Lactobacillus) in the murine gut and subsequently elicits anti-tumor immune responses. The ion-exchangeable microstructure of smectite preferentially promotes lactic acid bacteria (LABs) to form biofilms on smectite in vitro and in vivo. In mouse models, smectite laden with LAB biofilms (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium) inhibits tumor growth (when used alone) and enhances the efficacy of chemotherapy or immunotherapy (when used in combination with either of them) by activating dendritic cells (DCs) via Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) signaling. Our findings suggest oral administration of smectite as a promising strategy to enrich probiotics in vivo for cancer immunotherapy.

Keywords: biofilm; cancer therapy; gut microbiome; probiotics; smectite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bifidobacterium / physiology*
  • Biofilms / drug effects*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Immunotherapy*
  • Lactobacillus / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasms, Experimental* / microbiology
  • Neoplasms, Experimental* / therapy
  • Probiotics / pharmacology*
  • Silicates / pharmacology*


  • Silicates
  • Smectite