Reciprocal interactions between the gut microbiome and mammary tissue mast cells promote metastatic dissemination of HR+ breast tumors

Tzu-Yu Feng, Francesca N. Azar, Sally A. Dreger, Claire Buchta Rosean, Mitchell T. McGinty, Audrey M. Putelo, Sree H. Kolli, Maureen A. Carey, Stephanie Greenfield, Wesley J. Fowler, Stephen D. Robinson, Melanie R. Rutkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Establishing commensal dysbiosis, defined as an inflammatory gut microbiome with low biodiversity, before breast tumor initiation, enhances early dissemination of hormone receptor–positive (HR+) mammary tumor cells. Here, we sought to determine whether cellular changes occurring in normal mammary tissues, before tumor initiation and in response to dysbiosis, enhanced dissemination of HR+ tumors. Commensal dysbiosis increased both the frequency and profibrogenicity of mast cells in normal, non–tumor-bearing mammary tissues, a phenotypic change that persisted after tumor implantation. Pharmacological and adoptive transfer approaches demonstrated that profibrogenic mammary tissue mast cells from dysbiotic animals were sufficient to enhance dissemination of HR+ tumor cells. Using archival HR+ patient samples, we determined that enhanced collagen levels in tumor-adjacent mammary tissue positively correlated with mast cell abundance and HR+ breast cancer recurrence. Together, these data demonstrate that mast cells programmed by commensal dysbiosis activate mammary tissue fibroblasts and orchestrate early dissemination of HR+ breast tumors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309–1325
Number of pages17
JournalCancer Immunology Research
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2022

Cite this