Composition of gastrointestinal microbiota in association with treatment response in individuals with metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer progressing on enzalutamide and initiating treatment with anti-PD-1 (pembrolizumab).

Recent studies in cancer patients and animal models demonstrate that intestinal microbiota influence the therapeutic efficacy of cancer treatments, including immune checkpoint inhibition. However, no studies to-date have investigated relationships between gastrointestinal microbiota composition and response to checkpoint inhibition in advanced metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC). We performed 16S rRNA gene sequencing of fecal DNA from 23 individuals with mCRPC progressing on enzalutamide and just prior to treatment with anti-PD-1 (pembrolizumab) to determine whether certain features of the microbiome are associated with treatment response (defined as serum PSA decrease >50% at any time on treatment or radiographic response per RECIST V.1.1). Global bacterial composition was similar between responders and non-responders, as assessed by multiple alpha and beta diversity metrics. However, certain bacterial taxa identified by sequencing across multiple 16S rRNA hypervariable regions were consistently associated with response, including the archetypal oral bacterium Streptococcus salivarius. Quantitative PCR (qPCR) of DNA extracts from fecal samples confirmed increased Streptococcus salivarius fecal levels in responders, whereas qPCR of oral swish DNA extracts showed no relationship between oral Streptococcus salivarius levels and response status. Contrary to previous reports in other cancer types, Akkermansia muciniphila levels were reduced in responder samples as assessed by both 16S rRNA sequencing and qPCR. We further analyzed our data in the context of a previously published "integrated index" describing bacteria associated with response and non-response to checkpoint inhibition. We found that the index was not reflective of response status in our cohort. Lastly, we demonstrate little change in the microbiome over time, and with pembrolizumab treatment. Our results suggest that the association between fecal microbiota and treatment response to immunotherapy may be unique to cancer type and/or previous treatment history.

Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.). 2022 Jul 28 [Epub ahead of print]

Lauren B Peiffer, James R White, Carli B Jones, Rachel E Slottke, Sarah E Ernst, Amy E Moran, Julie N Graff, Karen S Sfanos

Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA., Resphera Biosciences, Baltimore, MD, USA., Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA., Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA., Department of Cell, Developmental and Cancer Biology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA., Division of Hematology & Medical Oncology, Knight Cancer Institute, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR, USA; Portland VA Health Care System, Portland, OR, USA. Electronic address: ., Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA; Departments of Oncology and Urology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address: .

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