Two papers recently published in Science show that the gut microbiota can alter a patient's response to anti-cancer therapies.
The gut microbiota is known to affect immunity, metabolism and tissue development. However, little is known about whether and how the gut affects the response of patients to chemotherapy, leading two research teams to investigate this question.
In the first study, a team from France investigated the effects of cyclophosphamide on the microbiota in the small intestine, as well as how these effects influence the antitumour immune response. Sophie Viaud and co-workers characterized the inflammatory status of the gut epithelial barrier of mice 48 h after they had been given cyclophosphamide. The treatment resulted in shortening of the villi in the small intestine and discontinuities of the epithelial barrier; in addition, the number of goblet cells in the villi increased, as did the number of Paneth cells in intestinal crypts. In the duodenum of the treated mice, lysozyme (an antibacterial enzyme) expression was upregulated. At the same time, commensal bacteria were translocated to the mesenteric lymph nodes and spleen as a result of the damage caused to the gut epithelial barrier....
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