Microbes in the gut relate to melanoma severity

Linked Article: Vitali et al. Br J Dermatol 2022; 186:106–116.

Melanoma is a skin cancer arising from melanocytes (the cells producing melanin, a pigment determining the colour of our skin that is able to protect us against ultraviolet radiation damage). It is a serious type of cancer, causing the greatest number of skin cancer-related deaths worldwide.

Microorganisms (fungi, yeasts and bacteria) living in association with our body are termed ‘microbiota’. We have evolved to live in cooperation (symbiosis) with our microbiota.

Knowing already about the ability of the gut microbiota to interact with the host immune system, and also knowing that melanoma is a type of cancer that strongly activates the immune system, we conducted this study to see if the microbiota living in patient’s gut could be linked to the degree of the severity of their disease.

We studied the gut ecosystem using an approach called next-generation sequencing to identify all the microbes. The study was conducted in Italy, involving patients with melanoma and healthy control participants.

Our results showed that patients with melanoma have a different gut microbiota than healthy controls. Also, that in the patients with melanoma both the bacterial and fungi community profiles are linked to the severity of the disease. We conclude that the microbiota in early-stage melanoma changes along with the severity of the disease. Our results suggest promising future developments in early melanoma research.