Cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK)4/6-inhibitors with endocrine therapy represent the standard of treatment of hormone receptor-positive(HR+)/human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)-negative metastatic breast cancer (MBC). Gut microbiota seems to predict treatment response in several tumour types, being directly implied in chemotherapy resistance and development of adverse effects. No evidence is available on gut microbiota impact on efficacy of HR+ breast cancer treatment.

Patients and methods

We assessed the potential association among faecal microbiota and therapeutic efficacy of CDK4/6-inhibitors on 14 MBC patients classified as responders (R) and non-responders (NR) according to progression-free survival. A stool sample was collected at baseline and V3–V4 16S targeted sequencing was employed to assess its bacterial composition. Statistical associations with R and NR were studied.


No significant differences were observed between R and NR in terms of α-/β-diversity at the phylum and species level. Machine-learning (ML) algorithms evidenced four bacterial species as a discriminant for R (Bifidobacterium longum, Ruminococcus callidus) and NR (Clostridium innocuum, Schaalia odontolytica), and an area under curve (AUC) of 0.946 after Random Forest modelling. Network analysis evidenced two major clusters of bacterial species, named Species Interacting Groups (SIG)1–2, with SIG1 harbouring 75% of NR-related bacterial species, and SIG2 regrouping 76% of R-related species (p < 0.001). Cross-correlations among several patients’ circulating immune cells or biomarkers and bacterial species’ relative abundances showed associations with potential prognostic implications.


Our results provide initial insights into the gut microbiota involvement in sensitivity and/or resistance to CDK4/6-inhibitors + endocrine therapy in MBC. If confirmed in larger trials, several microbiota manipulation strategies might be hypothesised to improve response to CDK4/6-inhibitors.

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