Tumor grafting induces changes of gut microbiota in athymic nude mice in the presence and absence of medicinal Gynostemma saponins

Lei Chen, William C S TAI, Manreetpal S. Brar, Frederick C.C. Leung, Wendy W L HSIAO

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Recent findings have revealed that gut microbiota plays a substantial role in modulating diseases such as autism, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, and cancer that occur at sites distant to the gut. Athymic nude mice have been employed for tumorigenic research for decades; however, the relationships between the gut microbiome and host's response in drug treatment to the grafted tumors have not been explored. In this study, we analyzed the fecal microbiome of nonxenograft and xenograft nude mice treated with phytosaponins from a popular medicinal plant, Gynostemma pentaphyllum (Gp). Analysis of enterobacterial repetitive intergenic consensus (ERIC)-PCR data showed that the microbiota profile of xenograft mice departed from that of the nonxenograft mice. After ten days of treatment with Gp saponins (GpS), the microbiota of the treated mice was closer to the microbiota at Day 0 before the implantation of the tumor. Data obtained from 16S pyrosequencing of fecal samples reiterates the differences in microbiome between the nonxenograft and xenograft mice. GpS markedly increased the relative abundance of Clostridium cocleatum and Bacteroides acidifaciens, for which the beneficial effects on the host have been well documented. This study, for the first time, characterizes the properties of gut microbiome in nude mice responding to tumor implant and drug treatment. We also demonstrate that dietary saponins such as GpS can potentially regulate the gut microbial ecosystem by increasing the number of symbionts. Interestingly, this regulation of the gut ecosystem might, at least in part, be responsible for or contribute to the anticancer effect of GpS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0126807
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 May 2015

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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