Porphyromonas gingivalis is a member of the dysbiotic oral microbiome associated with oral inflammation and periodontal disease. Intriguingly, epidemiological studies link P. gingivalis to an increased risk of pancreatic cancer. Given that oral bacteria are detected in human pancreatic cancer, and both mouse and human pancreata harbor microbiota, we explored the involvement of P. gingivalis in pancreatic tumorigenesis using cell lines and a xenograft model. Live P. gingivalis induced proliferation of pancreatic cancer cells; however, surprisingly, this effect was independent of Toll-like receptor 2, the innate immune receptor that is engaged in response to P. gingivalis on other cancer and immune cells, and is required for P. gingivalis to induce alveolar bone resorption. Instead, we found that P. gingivalis survives inside pancreatic cancer cells, a trait that can be enhanced in vitro and is increased by hypoxia, a central characteristic of pancreatic cancer. Increased tumor cell proliferation was related to the degree of intracellular persistence, and infection of tumor cells with P. gingivalis led to enhanced growth in vivo. To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to demonstrate the direct effect of exposure to P. gingivalis on the tumorigenic behavior of pancreatic cancer cell lines. Our findings shed light on potential mechanisms underlying the pancreatic cancer–periodontitis link.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by a grant from the Israel Science Foundation awarded to G.N., grant number 1391/17, a grant from the Israel Science Foundation grant number 1715/17 awarded to M.E. and a grant from the Legacy Heritage Bio-Medical Program number 663/16 awarded to M.E.
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- Pancreatic neoplasms
- Porphyromonas gingivalis
- Tumor hypoxia