Image_2_Chemotherapy-associated oral microbiome changes in breast cancer patients.jpeg
Cytotoxic chemotherapy with or without a combination of humanized monoclonal antibodies is regarded as the gold standard of personalized medicine for the treatment of breast cancer patients. Significant medication-related side effects are common accompanying phenomena for these patients, such as oral discomfort, mucositis, or even osteonecrosis of the jaw. In this study, we analyze the saliva samples of 20 breast cancer patients at three time points throughout their chemotherapy: at the baseline prior to treatment initiation (T1), after four-to-six cycles of chemotherapy (T2), and 1 year after the start of the treatment (T3) to investigate and characterize the long-term effects of chemotherapy on the oral microbiome. We aimed to characterize changes in the oral bacterial microbiome based on 16S rRNA gene amplicon analysis during chemotherapeutic treatment, as a potential target to treat common oral side effects occurring during therapy. The chemotherapeutic drugs used in our study for patient treatment were trastuzumab, docetaxel, pertuzumab, epirubicin, and cyclophosphamide. We find a significant increase in the relative abundance of potentially pathogenic taxa like Escherichia/Shigella and non-significant trends in the relative abundance of, for example, Actinomyces ssp. In conclusion, the role of microbiota in the oral side effects of chemotherapeutic treatment needs to be considered and should be analyzed in more detail using larger patient cohorts. Oral side effects in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy are a common burden and should be treated for a better tolerability of the therapy.