The impact of microbiome dysbiosis on T cell function within the tumor microenvironment (TME)

Michelle P. DiPalma, Joseph N. Blattman

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Insights into the effect of the microbiome’s composition on immune cell function have recently been discerned and further characterized. Microbiome dysbiosis can result in functional alterations across immune cells, including those required for innate and adaptive immune responses to malignancies and immunotherapy treatment. Dysbiosis can yield changes in or elimination of metabolite secretions, such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), from certain bacterial species that are believed to impact proper immune cell function. Such alterations within the tumor microenvironment (TME) can significantly affect T cell function and survival necessary for eliminating cancerous cells. Understanding these effects is essential to improve the immune system’s ability to fight malignancies and the subsequent efficacy of immunotherapies that rely on T cells. In this review, we assess typical T cell response to malignancies, classify the known impact of the microbiome and particular metabolites on T cells, discuss how dysbiosis can affect their function in the TME then further describe the impact of the microbiome on T cell-based immunotherapy treatment, with an emphasis on recent developments in the field. Understanding the impact of dysbiosis on T cell function within the TME can carry substantial implications for the design of immunotherapy treatments and further our understanding of factors that could impact how the immune system combats malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1141215
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • T cell
  • T cell signaling
  • dysbiosis
  • immunotherapy
  • metabolites
  • microbiome
  • short chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
  • tumor microenvironment (TME)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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