Comparative analysis of antibiotic exposure association with clinical outcomes of chemotherapy versus immunotherapy across three tumour types

Amit A. Kulkarni, Maryam Ebadi, Shijia Zhang, Mohamad A. Meybodi, Alaa M. Ali, Todd Defor, Ryan Shanley, Daniel Weisdorf, Charles Ryan, Sumithira Vasu, Armin Rashidi, Manish Ramesh Patel

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17 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In solid tumours, antibiotic use during immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) treatment is associated with shorter survival. Following allogeneic haematopoietic cell transplantation (allo-HCT), antibiotic-induced gut microbiome alterations are associated with risk of relapse and mortality. These findings suggest that the gut microbiota can modulate antitumour immune response across tumour types, though it is not clear if the impact on outcomes is specific to immune therapy. An important limitation of previous studies is that the analysis combined all antibiotic exposures irrespective of the antibiotic spectrum of activity. Whether antibiotic exposure during induction chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) affects risk of relapse is also unknown.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We performed a single-centred retrospective analysis of antibiotic exposures in metastatic/advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and renal cell cancer (RCC) receiving ICI and newly diagnosed AML patients receiving induction chemotherapy achieving a complete remission 1. Antibiotic use within 4 weeks before and 6 weeks after the ICI initiation were included. In AML patients, antibiotic exposures between days 1 and 28 of induction were collected. Antibiotics were a priori stratified based on spectrum of activity. Primary outcomes of interest were progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS) in NSCLC and RCC and relapse-free survival (RFS) in AML.

RESULTS: 140 patients with NSCLC, 55 with RCC and 143 with AML were included. In multivariable analysis, PFS and OS were shorter in NSCLC patients who received broad-spectrum anti-anaerobes (PFS, HR=3.2, 95% CI 1.6 to 6.2, p<0.01; OS, HR=1.7, 95% CI 0.8 to 3.6, p=0.19) or 'other' antibiotics (vancomycin-predominant) (PFS, HR=2.4, 95% CI 1.3 to 4.6, p<0.01; OS, HR=2.4, 95% CI 1.2 to 4.7, p=0.01). In RCC, patients who received penicillins/penicillin-class/early-generation cephalosporins had shorter PFS (HR=3.6, 95% CI 1.7 to 7.6, p<0.01) but similar OS (p=0.37). In the AML cohort, none of the exposures were associated with RFS.

CONCLUSION: In contrast to AML, antibiotic exposures in solid tumours affected clinical outcomes. The presence of an allogeneic effect (allo-HCT) or an augmented immune system (checkpoint blockade) may be necessary for microbiota mediation of relapse risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000803
JournalESMO Open
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 7 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Competing interests DW: No relevant conflicts, unrelated research support from Incyte and Consultation fees for GVHD adjudication, FATE Therapeutics. CR: Research support from Pfizer and has served on an advisory board for Exelixis. MRP: No relevant conflicts related to this work. Served on Nektar Therapeutics Advisory Board and received research funding from Merck, Vyriad and FATE therapeutics.

Publisher Copyright:
© Author (s) (or their employer(s)) 2020. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. Published by BMJ on behalf of the European Society for Medical Oncology.


  • acute myeloid leukaemia
  • antibiotics
  • immunotherapy
  • non-small cell lung cancer
  • renal cell cancer

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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