Attempting to identify bacterial allies in immunotherapy of NSCLC patients
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Introduction: Factors other than PD-L1 (Programmed Death Ligand 1) are being sought as predictors for cancer immuno- or chemoimmunotherapy in ongoing studies and long-term ob- servations. Despite high PD-L1 expression on tumor cells, some patients do not benefit from im- munotherapy, while others, without the expression of this molecule, respond to immunotherapy. Attention has been paid to the composition of the gut microbiome as a potential predictive factor for immunotherapy effectiveness. Materials and Methods: Our study enrolled 47 Caucasian patients with stage IIIB or IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). They were eligible for treatment with first- or second-line immunotherapy or chemoimmunotherapy. We collected stool samples before the administration of immunotherapy. We performed next-generation sequencing (NGS) on DNA isolated from the stool sample and analyzed bacterial V3 and V4 of the 16S rRNA gene. Results: We found that bacteria from the families Barnesiellaceae, Ruminococcaceae, Tannerellaceae, and Clostridiaceae could modulate immunotherapy effectiveness. A high abundance of Bacteroidaaceae, Barnesiellaceae, and Tannerellaceae could extend progression-free survival (PFS). Moreover, the risk of death was significantly higher in patients with a high content of Ruminococcaceae family (HR = 6.3, 95% CI: 2.6 to 15.3, p < 0.0001) and in patients with a low abundance of Clostridia UCG-014 (HR = 3.8, 95% CI: 1.5 to 9.8, p = 0.005) regardless of the immunotherapy line. Conclusions: The Clostridia class in gut microbiota could affect the effectiveness of immunotherapy, as well as the length of survival of NSCLC patients who received this method of treatment.
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