University of Oulu

Metsäniitty, M., Hasnat, S., Salo, T., & Salem, A. (2021). Oral Microbiota—A New Frontier in the Pathogenesis and Management of Head and Neck Cancers. Cancers, 14(1), 46.

Oral microbiota : a new frontier in the pathogenesis and management of head and neck cancers

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Author: Metsäniitty, Marjut1; Hasnat, Shrabon1; Salo, Tuula1,2,3,4;
Organizations: 1Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases, Clinicum, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2Translational Immunology Research Program (TRIMM), Research Program Unit (RPU), University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3Department of Pathology, Helsinki University Hospital (HUS), 00029 Helsinki, Finland
4Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-08-17


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) comprises the majority of tumors in head and neck tissues. The prognosis of HNSCC has not significantly improved for decades, signifying the need for new diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Recent evidence suggests that oral microbiota is associated with carcinogenesis. Thus, we conducted a comprehensive systematic review to evaluate the current evidence regarding the role of oral microbiota in HNSCC and whether their targeting may confer diagnostic, prognostic or therapeutic utility. Following the screening of 233 publications retrieved from multiple databases, 34 eligible studies comprising 2469 patients were compiled and critically appraised. Importantly, many oral pathogens, such as Porphyromonas gingivalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum were linked to certain oral potentially malignant lesions and various types of HNSCC. Furthermore, we summarized the association between the expression profiles of different oral bacterial species and their tumorigenic and prognostic effects in cancer patients. We also discussed the current limitations of this newly emerging area and the potential microbiota-related strategies for preventing and treating HNSCC. Whilst many clinical studies are underway to unravel the role of oral microbiota in cancer, the limited available data and experimental approaches reflect the newness of this promising yet challenging field.

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Series: Cancers
ISSN: 2072-6694
ISSN-E: 2072-6694
ISSN-L: 2072-6694
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Article number: 46
DOI: 10.3390/cancers14010046
Type of Publication: A2 Review article in a scientific journal
Field of Science: 3122 Cancers
Funding: This research was funded by: The MD-PhD Program, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki; Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation; The Minerva Foundation Institute for Medical Research; Cancer Society of Finland; Sigrid Jusélius Foundation; Helsinki University Central Hospital research funds; Oulu University Hospital MRC grant.
Copyright information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (