Ample evidence indicates that the gut microbiome is a tumor-extrinsic factor associated with antitumor response to anti-programmed cell death protein-1 (PD-1) therapy, but inconsistencies exist between published microbial signatures associated with clinical outcomes. To resolve this, we evaluated a new melanoma cohort, along with four published datasets.

Time-to-event analysis showed that baseline microbiota composition was optimally associated with clinical outcome at approximately 1 year after initiation of treatment. Meta-analysis and other bioinformatic analyses of the combined data show that bacteria associated with favorable response are confined within the Actinobacteria phylum and the Lachnospiraceae/Ruminococcaceae families of Firmicutes.

Conversely, Gram-negative bacteria were associated with an inflammatory host intestinal gene signature, increased blood neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio, and unfavorable outcome. Two microbial signatures, enriched for Lachnospiraceae spp. and Streptococcaceae spp., were associated with favorable and unfavorable clinical response, respectively, and with distinct immune-related adverse effects.

Despite between-cohort heterogeneity, optimized all-minus-one supervised learning algorithms trained on batch-corrected microbiome data consistently predicted outcomes to programmed cell death protein-1 therapy in all cohorts. Gut microbial communities (microbiotypes) with nonuniform geographical distribution were associated with favorable and unfavorable outcomes, contributing to discrepancies between cohorts. Our findings shed new light on the complex interaction between the gut microbiome and response to cancer immunotherapy, providing a roadmap for future studies.

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