Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.4, 1395-1405, 2021
Cancer trigger or remedy: two faces of the human microbiome
Currently, increasing attention cancer treatment has focused on molecularly targeted therapies and more recently on immunotherapies targeting immune checkpoints. However, even such advanced treatment may be ineffective. The reasons for this are sought, inter alia, in the human microbiome. In our intestines, there are bacteria that are beneficial to us, but pathogenic microorganisms may also be present. Microbial imbalance (dysbiosis) is now perceived as one of the gateways to cancer. However, it is feasible to use bacteria and their metabolites to restore the natural, beneficial microbiome during oncological treatment. Akkermansia mucinifila, Enterococcus hirae, or Faecalibacterium prausnitzii are bacteria that exhibit this beneficial potential. Greater benefits of therapy can be observed in cancer patients enriched in these bacterial species and treated with anti-PD-1, anti-PD-L1, or anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibodies. In this review, we present issues related to the role of bacteria in carcinogenesis and their therapeutic potential "supporting" modern anti-cancer therapies. Key Points center dot Bacteria can be directly or indirectly a cancer trigger. center dot Bacterial metabolites regulate the pathways associated with carcinogenesis. center dot Intestinal bacteria activate the immune system to fight cancer.