Dietary Supplementation of Inulin Contributes to the Prevention of Estrogen Receptor-Negative Mammary Cancer by Alteration of Gut Microbial Communities and Epigenetic Regulations

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 May 19;24(10):9015. doi: 10.3390/ijms24109015.


Breast cancer (BC) is among the most frequently diagnosed malignant cancers in women in the United States. Diet and nutrition supplementation are closely related to BC onset and progression, and inulin is commercially available as a health supplement to improve gut health. However, little is known with respect to inulin intake for BC prevention. We investigated the effect of an inulin-supplemented diet on the prevention of estrogen receptor-negative mammary carcinoma in a transgenic mouse model. Plasma short-chain fatty acids were measured, the gut microbial composition was analyzed, and the expression of proteins related to cell cycle and epigenetics-related genes was measured. Inulin supplementation greatly inhibited tumor growth and significantly delayed tumor latency. The mice that consumed inulin had a distinct microbiome and higher diversity of gut microbial composition compared to the control. The concentration of propionic acid in plasma was significantly higher in the inulin-supplemented group. The protein expression of epigenetic-modulating histone deacetylase 2 (Hdac2), Hdac8, and DNA methyltransferase 3b decreased. The protein expression of factors related to tumor cell proliferation and survival, such as Akt, phospho-PI3K, and NF-kB, also decreased with inulin administration. Furthermore, sodium propionate showed BC prevention effect in vivo through epigenetic regulations. These studies suggest that modulating microbial composition through inulin consumption may be a promising strategy for BC prevention.

Keywords: breast cancer; epigenetics regulations; gut microbiome; inulin; prebiotics.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Inulin / metabolism
  • Inulin / pharmacology
  • Mice
  • Microbiota*
  • Neoplasms*
  • Prebiotics / analysis
  • Receptors, Estrogen / metabolism


  • Inulin
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Prebiotics