The role of the microbiome in drug resistance in gastrointestinal cancers

Ingrid Garajová, Rita Balsano, Heling Wang, Francesco Leonardi, Elisa Giovannetti, Dongmei Deng, Godefridus J. Peters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: The microbiota is recognized for its impact on both human health and disease. The human microbiota is made up of trillions of cells, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The largest population of microbes reside in the gut, prompting research for better understanding of the impact of gastrointestinal microbiota in different diseases. Evidence from numerous studies has pointed out the role of commensal microbes as key determinants of cancer pathogenesis. Moreover, gut microbiota may play an important role in chemoresistance; consequently, this knowledge might be important for novel strategies to improve anticancer treatment efficacy. Areas covered: We describe the role of microbiota in different gastrointestinal cancer types (esophageal, gastric, colorectal, hepatocellular and pancreatic-biliary tract cancers). Moreover, we analyzed the impact of the microbiota on resistance to anticancer therapies, and, lastly, we focused on possibilities of microbiota modulation to enhance anticancer therapy efficacy. Expert opinion: Increasing evidence shows that gut microbiota might influence resistance to anticancer treatment, including conventional chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, and surgery. Therefore, a better knowledge of gut microbiota and its interactions with anticancer drugs will enable us to develop novel anticancer treatment strategies and subsequently improve the cancer patients’ outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-176
Number of pages12
JournalExpert Review of Anticancer Therapy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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