Gut microbiota condition the therapeutic efficacy of trastuzumab in HER2-positive breast cancer

Claudio Tripodo, Beatrice Belmonte, Stefania Arioli, Tiziana Triulzi, Laura Villani, Martina Di Modica, Viola Regondi, Francesca Bianchi, Giorgio Gargari, Alessia Bertolotti, Arianna Bonizzi, Elena Fasano, Claudio Tripodo, Elda Tagliabue, Andrea Balsari, Fabio Corsi, Simone Guglielmetti, Loris De Cecco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Emerging evidence indicates that gut microbiota affect the response to anticancer therapies by modulating the host immune system. In this study, we investigated the impact of the gut microbiota on immune-mediated trastuzumab antitumor efficacy in preclinical models of HER2-positive breast cancer (BC) and in 24 patients with primary HER2-positive BC undergoing trastuzumab-containing neoadjuvant treatment. In mice, the antitumor activity of trastuzumab was impaired by antibiotic administration or fecal microbiota transplantation from antibiotic-treated donors. Modulation of the intestinal microbiota was reflected in tumors by impaired recruitment of CD4+ T cells and GZMB+ cells after trastuzumab treatment. Antibiotics caused reductions in dendritic cell (DC) activation and the release of IL12p70 upon trastuzumab treatment, a mechanism that was necessary for trastuzumab effectiveness in our model. In patients, lower alpha-diversity and lower abundance of Lachnospiraceae, Turicibacteriaceae, Bifidobacteriaceae and Prevotellaceae characterized nonresponsive patients (NR) compared to those who achieved pathological complete response (R), similar to antibiotic-treated mice. The transfer of fecal microbiota from R and NR into mice bearing HER2-positive BC recapitulated the response to trastuzumab observed in patients. Fecal microbiota beta-diversity segregated patients according to response and positively correlated with immune signature related to interferon, IL12-NO, activated CD4+ T cells and activated DC in tumors. Overall, our data reveal the direct involvement of the gut microbiota in trastuzumab efficacy, suggesting that manipulation of the gut microbiota is an optimal future strategy to achieve a therapeutic effect or to exploit its potential as a biomarker for treatment response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2195-2206
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Publication statusPublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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