Fusobacterium nucleatum: a novel immune modulator in breast cancer?

Alexa Little, Mark Tangney, Michael M. Tunney, Niamh E. Buckley*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Breast cancer was the most commonly diagnosed cancer worldwide in 2020. Greater understanding of the factors which promote tumour progression, metastatic development and therapeutic resistance is needed. In recent years, a distinct microbiome has been detected in the breast, a site previously thought to be sterile. Here, we review the clinical and molecular relevance of the oral anaerobic bacterium Fusobacterium nucleatum in breast cancer. F. nucleatum is enriched in breast tumour tissue compared with matched healthy tissue and has been shown to promote mammary tumour growth and metastatic progression in mouse models. Current literature suggests that F. nucleatum modulates immune escape and inflammation within the tissue microenvironment, two well-defined hallmarks of cancer. Furthermore, the microbiome, and F. nucleatum specifically, has been shown to affect patient response to therapy including immune checkpoint inhibitors. These findings highlight areas of future research needed to better understand the influence of F. nucleatum in the development and treatment of breast cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere15
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Reviews in Molecular Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 03 Apr 2023


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