This research proposes to investigate our interesting findings of high scientific and medical significance involving colonic malignancies that are common and deadly in human patients. In humans, inflammation is a well-recognized risk factor for cancer. We have shown in mice that supplementation with anti-inflammatory CD4+ regulatory cells (Treg) which promote immune homeostasis in the lower bowel are highly effective in preventing and treating colonic cancers. However, high levels of inflammatory factors within the tumor microenvironment may create a vicious cycle that undermines protective functions of Treg. Thus, strategies that enhance potency of Treg to maintain homeostasis and constructively down-regulate inflammation may be of great value in fighting cancer. A recent and repeatable finding in our lab relates to the well-regarded 'hygiene hypothesis'in that prior exposures to enteric bacteria appear to enhance potency of Treg to protect against cancer. We propose to test immune strategies that optimize the intestinal balance between bacteria, inflammatory cytokines and Treg. We speculate that targeted stimulation of beneficial Treg using oral vaccination strategies may ultimately provide population-based approaches to abolish inflammation-associated cancers in humans.

Public Health Relevance

Chronic inflammation increases risk of cancer in humans and in mice. Anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells (Treg) normally function to maintain immune balance and down- regulate inflammatory factors that lead to cancer growth. We propose to build upon our recent scientific breakthroughs and test strategies in mice that will stimulate potent and highly beneficial Treg to prevent cancer and impart healthful longevity in humans.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cancer Immunopathology and Immunotherapy Study Section (CII)
Program Officer
Daschner, Phillip J
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Veterinary Sciences
Other Domestic Higher Education
United States
Zip Code
Erdman, Susan E; Poutahidis, Theofilos (2017) Gut microbiota modulate host immune cells in cancer development and growth. Free Radic Biol Med 105:28-34
Varian, Bernard J; Poutahidis, Theofilos; DiBenedictis, Brett T et al. (2017) Microbial lysate upregulates host oxytocin. Brain Behav Immun 61:36-49
Poutahidis, Theofilos; Erdman, Susan E (2016) Commensal bacteria modulate the tumor microenvironment. Cancer Lett 380:356-8
Erdman, Susan E; Poutahidis, Theofilos (2015) Gut bacteria and cancer. Biochim Biophys Acta 1856:86-90
Poutahidis, Theofilos; Varian, Bernard J; Levkovich, Tatiana et al. (2015) Dietary microbes modulate transgenerational cancer risk. Cancer Res 75:1197-204
Doulberis, Michael; Angelopoulou, Katerina; Kaldrymidou, Eleni et al. (2015) Cholera-toxin suppresses carcinogenesis in a mouse model of inflammation-driven sporadic colon cancer. Carcinogenesis 36:280-90
Levkovich, Tatiana; Poutahidis, Theofilos; Cappelle, Kelsey et al. (2014) 'Hygienic' lymphocytes convey increased cancer risk. J Anal Oncol 3:113-121
Erdman, S E; Poutahidis, T (2014) Probiotic 'glow of health': it's more than skin deep. Benef Microbes 5:109-19
Poutahidis, Theofilos; Springer, Alex; Levkovich, Tatiana et al. (2014) Probiotic microbes sustain youthful serum testosterone levels and testicular size in aging mice. PLoS One 9:e84877
Lakritz, Jessica R; Poutahidis, Theofilos; Levkovich, Tatiana et al. (2014) Beneficial bacteria stimulate host immune cells to counteract dietary and genetic predisposition to mammary cancer in mice. Int J Cancer 135:529-40

Showing the most recent 10 out of 30 publications