A Gut Instinct on Leukaemia: A New Mechanistic Hypothesis for Microbiota‐Immune Crosstalk in Disease Progression and Relapse

Ilaria S. Pagani, Govinda Poudel, Hannah R. Wardill

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Despite significant advances in the treatment of Chronic Myeloid and Acute Lympho-blastic Leukaemia (CML and ALL, respectively), disease progression and relapse remain a major problem. Growing evidence indicates the loss of immune surveillance of residual leukaemic cells as one of the main contributors to disease recurrence and relapse. More recently, there was an appreciation for how the host’s gut microbiota predisposes to relapse given its potent immunomodulatory capacity. This is especially compelling in haematological malignancies where changes in the gut microbiota have been identified after treatment, persisting in some patients for years after the completion of treatment. In this hypothesis‐generating review, we discuss the interaction between the gut microbiota and treatment responses, and its capacity to influence the risk of relapse in both CML and ALL We hypothesize that the gut microbiota contributes to the creation of an immunosuppressive microenvironment, which promotes tumour progression and relapse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number713
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 2022


  • acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
  • cancer relapse
  • chronic myeloid leukaemia
  • disease progression
  • dysbiosis
  • gut metabolites
  • gut microbiota
  • immune suppressors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Virology

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