Learning from the microbes: exploiting the microbiome to enforce T cell immunotherapy

Sarah Staudt, Kai Ziegler-Martin, Alexander Visekruna, John Slingerland, Roni Shouval, Michael Hudecek, Marcel van den Brink, Maik Luu

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


The opportunities genetic engineering has created in the field of adoptive cellular therapy for cancer are accelerating the development of novel treatment strategies using chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor (TCR) T cells. The great success in the context of hematologic malignancies has made especially CAR T cell therapy a promising approach capable of achieving long-lasting remission. However, the causalities involved in mediating resistance to treatment or relapse are still barely investigated. Research on T cell exhaustion and dysfunction has drawn attention to host-derived factors that define both the immune and tumor microenvironment (TME) crucially influencing efficacy and toxicity of cellular immunotherapy. The microbiome, as one of the most complex host factors, has become a central topic of investigations due to its ability to impact on health and disease. Recent findings support the hypothesis that commensal bacteria and particularly microbiota-derived metabolites educate and modulate host immunity and TME, thereby contributing to the response to cancer immunotherapy. Hence, the composition of microbial strains as well as their soluble messengers are considered to have predictive value regarding CAR T cell efficacy and toxicity. The diversity of mechanisms underlying both beneficial and detrimental effects of microbiota comprise various epigenetic, metabolic and signaling-related pathways that have the potential to be exploited for the improvement of CAR T cell function. In this review, we will discuss the recent findings in the field of microbiome-cancer interaction, especially with respect to new trajectories that commensal factors can offer to advance cellular immunotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1269015
JournalFrontiers in Immunology
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Staudt, Ziegler-Martin, Visekruna, Slingerland, Shouval, Hudecek, van den Brink and Luu.


  • CAR T cell
  • cancer immune cell therapy
  • immunology
  • immunotherapy
  • microbiome


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