Dr. Greten Discusses the Impact of the Gut Microbiome on Liver Tumors

Tim F. Greten, MD

Tim F. Greten, MD, senior investigator, Thoracic and Gastrointestinal Malignancies Branch, National Cancer Institute, discusses the impact of the gut microbiome on liver tumors.

Greten and his team were interested in studying how the gut microbiome affected antitumor immunity in the liver. When the bacteria in the gut of animal models were depleted, it impaired tumor growth in multiple cases. This occurrence was then studied in more detail in order to detect the mechanism, Greten says.

The next question asked was, how can antibiotic treatment lead to fewer tumors and more natural killer T (NKT) cells in the liver? Investigators observed that giving antibiotics to mice with liver tumors resulted in an increase in the number of NKT cells. NKT cells can kill tumor cells, improving the antitumor immune response. Through this work, Greten says that the mechanism by which the bacteria metabolize and travel was discovered.
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