Microbiome modulates immunotherapy response in cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Jan 25:2023.01.25.525369. doi: 10.1101/2023.01.25.525369.


The gut microbiome is increasingly recognized to alter cancer risk, progression, and response to treatments such as immunotherapy, especially in cutaneous melanoma. However, whether the microbiome influences immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) immunotherapy response to non-melanoma skin cancer has not yet been defined. As squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) are in closest proximity to the skin microbiome, we hypothesized that the skin microbiome, which regulates cutaneous immunity, might affect SCC-associated anti-PD1 immunotherapy treatment response. We used ultraviolet radiation to induce SCC in SKH1 hairless mice. We then treated the mice with broad-band antibiotics to deplete the microbiome, followed by colonization by candidate skin and gut bacteria or persistent antibiotic treatment, all in parallel with ICI treatment. We longitudinally monitored skin and gut microbiome dynamics by 16S rRNA gene sequencing, and tumor burden by periodic tumor measurements and histologic assessment. Our study revealed that antibiotics-induced abrogation of the microbiome reduced tumor burden, suggesting a functional role of the microbiome in non-melanoma skin cancer therapy response.

Publication types

  • Preprint