Human Microbiota and Immunotherapy in Breast Cancer - A Review of Recent Developments

Marina Vitorino, Susana Baptista de Almeida, Diogo Alpuim Costa, Ana Faria, Conceição Calhau, Sofia Azambuja Braga

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10 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


Breast cancer (BC) is the most common malignancy and the second cause of cancer-specific death in women from high-income countries. Infectious agents are the third most important risk factor for cancer incidence after tobacco and obesity. Dysbiosis emerged as a key player that may influence cancer development, treatment, and prognosis through diverse biological processes. Metastatic BC has a highly variable clinical course, and more recently, immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) have become an emerging therapy in BC. Even with standardised treatment protocols, patients do not respond similarly, reflecting each individual´s heterogeneity, unique BC features, and tumour microenvironment. However, there is insufficient data regarding predictive factors of response to available treatments for BC. The microbiota could be a crucial piece of the puzzle to anticipate better individual BC risk and prognosis, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and clinical efficacy. In recent years, it has been shown that gut microbiota may modulate cancer treatments’ efficacy and adverse effects, and it is also apparent that both cancer itself and anticancer therapies interact with gut microbiota bidirectionally. Moreover, it has been proposed that certain gut microbes may protect the host against inappropriate inflammation and modulate the immune response. Future clinical research will determine if microbiota may be a prognostic and predictive factor of response to ICI and/or its side effects. Also, modulation of microbiota can be used to improve outcomes in BC patients. In this review, we discuss the potential implications of metabolomics and pharmacomicrobiomics that might impact BC immunotherapy treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number815772
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2022


  • breast cancer
  • dysbiosis
  • immunotherapy
  • microbiome
  • microbiota
  • pharmacomicrobiomics
  • treatment


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