Disparate occurrence of breast cancer remains an intriguing question since only a subset of women with known risk factors develop cancer. Recent studies suggest an active role of local and distant microbiota in breast cancer initiation, progression, and overall prognosis. A dysbiotic microbiota predisposes the body to develop cancer by inducing genetic instability, initiating DNA damage and proliferation of the damaged progeny, eliciting favorable immune response, metabolic dysregulation and altered response to therapy. In this review, we present our analyses of the existing datasets and discuss the local dysbiosis observed in breast cancer patients and different aspects of breast carcinogenesis that can be potentially influenced by local breast microbiota. Striking differences between microbial community compositions in breast of cancer patients compared to healthy individuals were noted. Differences in microbiome were also apparent between benign and malignant disease and between nipple aspirate fluid of healthy individuals and breast survivors. We also discuss the identification of distinct bacterial, fungal, viral as well as parasite signatures for breast cancer. These microbes are capable of producing numerous secondary metabolites that can act as signaling mediators effecting breast cancer progression. We review how microbes potentially alter response to therapy affecting drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, anti-tumor effects and toxicity. In conclusion, breast harbors a community of microbes that can communicate with the host cells inducing downstream signaling pathways and modulating various aspects of breast cancer growth and metastatic progression and an improved understanding of microbial dysbiosis can potentially reduce breast cancer risk and improve outcomes of breast cancer patients. The human microbiome, now referred to as, the “forgotten organ” contains a metagenome that is 100-fold more diverse compared to the human genome, thereby, is critically associated with human health [1,2]. With the revelations of the human microbiome project and advent of deep sequencing techniques, a plethora of information has been acquired in recent years. Body sites like stomach, bladder and lungs, once thought to be sterile, are now known to harbor millions of indigenous microbial species. Approximately 80% of the healthy microbiome consists of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes accompanied by Verrucomicrobia, Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria, Tenericutes and Cyanobacteria [2–7]. The role of microbiome in diabetes, obesity and even neurodegenerative diseases was greatly appreciated in the last decade [1,7–14] and now it has been established that microbiome significantly contributes to many organ specific cancers [1,15,16].
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research