In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Along with genetics, the environment contributes to disease development, but what these exact environmental factors are remains unknown. We have previously shown that breast tissue is not sterile but contains a diverse population of bacteria. We thus believe that the host's local microbiome could be modulating the risk of breast cancer development. Using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing, we show that bacterial profiles differ between normal adjacent tissue from women with breast cancer and tissue from healthy controls. Women with breast cancer had higher relative abundances of Bacillus , Enterobacteriaceae and Staphylococcus . Escherichia coli (a member of the Enterobacteriaceae family) and Staphylococcus epidermidis , isolated from breast cancer patients, were shown to induce DNA double-stranded breaks in HeLa cells using the histone-2AX (H2AX) phosphorylation (γ-H2AX) assay. We also found that microbial profiles are similar between normal adjacent tissue and tissue sampled directly from the tumor. This study raises important questions as to what role the breast microbiome plays in disease development or progression and how we can manipulate this for possible therapeutics or prevention. IMPORTANCE This study shows that different bacterial profiles in breast tissue exist between healthy women and those with breast cancer. Higher relative abundances of bacteria that had the ability to cause DNA damage in vitro were detected in breast cancer patients, as was a decrease in some lactic acid bacteria, known for their beneficial health effects, including anticarcinogenic properties. This study raises important questions as to the role of the mammary microbiome in modulating the risk of breast cancer development.
Urbaniak, C., Gloor, G. B., Brackstone, M., Scott, L., Tangney, M., & Reida, G. (2016). The microbiota of breast tissue and its association with breast cancer. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 82(16), 5039–5048. https://doi.org/10.1128/AEM.01235-16