Mammary tumors alter the fecal bacteriome and permit enteric bacterial translocation

Brett R. Loman, Kathryn L.G. Russart, Corena V. Grant, Alexis J. Lynch, Michael T. Bailey, Leah M. Pyter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer patients experience gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms, and are at increased risk of systemic infection and inflammation. These conditions are a major source of morbidity and decreased quality of life prior to cancer treatment, but poorly defined etiologies impede successful treatment. The gastrointestinal microbiota shape inflammation, influence cancer progression and treatment, and colonize tumors. However, research has not directly determined if peripheral tumors influence the microbiome and intestinal physiology, thus influencing gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine consequences of orthotopic, syngeneic mammary tumor implantation, growth, and resection on fecal bacteriome composition and intestinal barrier function in relation to systemic inflammation and enteric bacterial translocation in mice. Methods: Female mice were randomized to 3 experimental groups: sham surgical control, tumor recipients, and tumor recipients later receiving tumor-resection. Mice were sacrificed three weeks after tumor implantation or resection for collection of stool, colon, spleen, and brain tissue and analysis. Results: Tumor-bearing mice exhibited several markers of colonic barrier disruption, including dampened expression of tight junction proteins (Cldn1 and Ocln) and elevated circulating lipopolysaccharide binding protein (LBP). Compromised colonic barrier integrity was associated with altered fecal bacterial profiles in tumor-mice, including lower relative abundance of Lactobacillus, but higher Bacteroides. Consistent with colonic barrier disruption and altered microbiomes, tumor-mice displayed markers of systemic inflammation including splenomegaly, higher splenic bacterial load, and elevated splenic and brain pro-inflammatory cytokines. Several bacteria cultured from spleens had 16S rRNA gene amplicons matching those in fecal samples, suggesting they were of intestinal origin. Fecal Lactobacillus was highly-interrelated to physiological parameters disrupted by tumors via correlation network analysis. Tumor resection ameliorated circulating LBP, splenomegaly, and splenic cytokines, but not other parameters associated with loss of colonic barrier integrity and bacterial translocation. Conclusions: Orthotopic mammary tumors alter the microbiome, reduce intestinal barrier function, increase translocation of enteric bacteria, and alter systemic inflammation. This provides insight into how tumors commence gastrointestinal and behavioral symptoms prior to treatment, and identify targets for future therapeutics, such as probiotic Lactobacillus supplementation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number245
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Intestinal barrier
  • Microbiome
  • Tumor resection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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