Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICI) have revolutionized cancer therapy; however, their application is limited by the occurrence of immune-related adverse events. The gut microbiota plays important roles in the response to and toxicity of immunotherapy and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii (F. prausnitzii) has been shown to possess immunomodulatory potential. Here, we found that patients receiving ICIs who developed colitis had a lower abundance of F. prausnitzii. In vivo, immunocompetent mice administered with dextran sodium sulfate and immunodeficient NSG mice with human peripheral blood mononuclear cell transfer were treated with ICIs to study ICI-induced colitis. Dual CTLA4 and PD-1 blockade exacerbated autoimmune colitis, activated an inflammatory response, and promoted myeloid cell infiltration, with higher percentages of macrophages, dendritic cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. F. prausnitzii administration mitigated the exacerbated colitis induced by ICIs. Concomitantly, F. prausnitzii enhanced the antitumor immunity elicited by ICIs in tumor-bearing mice while abrogating colitis. In addition, administration of F. prausnitzii increased gut microbial alpha diversity and modulated the microbial composition, increasing a subset of gut probiotics and decreasing potential gut pathogens. F. prausnitzii abundance was reduced in mice that developed ICI-associated colitis. Together, this study shows that F. prausnitzii administration ameliorates ICI-induced colitis, reshapes the gut microbial composition, and enhances the antitumor activity of immunotherapy.


F. prausnitzii alleviates colitis while enhancing the tumor-suppressive effects of immune checkpoint blockade, indicating that supplementation with F. prausnitzii could be a treatment strategy to mitigate immunotherapy toxicity in patients with cancer.

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