Microbiota in cancer: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic interventions

MedComm (2020). 2023 Nov 5;4(6):e417. doi: 10.1002/mco2.417. eCollection 2023 Dec.


The diverse bacterial populations within the symbiotic microbiota play a pivotal role in both health and disease. Microbiota modulates critical aspects of tumor biology including cell proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. This regulation occurs through mechanisms like enhancing genomic damage, hindering gene repair, activating aberrant cell signaling pathways, influencing tumor cell metabolism, promoting revascularization, and remodeling the tumor immune microenvironment. These microbiota-mediated effects significantly impact overall survival and the recurrence of tumors after surgery by affecting the efficacy of chemoradiotherapy. Moreover, leveraging the microbiota for the development of biovectors, probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics, in addition to utilizing antibiotics, dietary adjustments, defensins, oncolytic virotherapy, and fecal microbiota transplantation, offers promising alternatives for cancer treatment. Nonetheless, due to the extensive and diverse nature of the microbiota, along with tumor heterogeneity, the molecular mechanisms underlying the role of microbiota in cancer remain a subject of intense debate. In this context, we refocus on various cancers, delving into the molecular signaling pathways associated with the microbiota and its derivatives, the reshaping of the tumor microenvironmental matrix, and the impact on tolerance to tumor treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy. This exploration aims to shed light on novel perspectives and potential applications in the field.

Keywords: microbiota; molecular mechanisms; oncolytic virotherapy; targeted therapy; tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Review