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Original research
Oral bacteria accelerate pancreatic cancer development in mice


Objective Epidemiological studies highlight an association between pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and oral carriage of the anaerobic bacterium Porphyromonas gingivalis, a species highly linked to periodontal disease. We analysed the potential for P. gingivalis to promote pancreatic cancer development in an animal model and probed underlying mechanisms.

Design We tracked P. gingivalis bacterial translocation from the oral cavity to the pancreas following administration to mice. To dissect the role of P. gingivalis in PDAC development, we administered bacteria to a genetically engineered mouse PDAC model consisting of inducible acinar cell expression of mutant Kras (Kras +/LSL-G12D; Ptf1a-CreER, iKC mice). These mice were used to study the cooperative effects of Kras mutation and P. gingivalis on the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) to PDAC. The direct effects of P. gingivalis on acinar cells and PDAC cell lines were studied in vitro.

Results P. gingivalis migrated from the oral cavity to the pancreas in mice and can be detected in human PanIN lesions. Repetitive P. gingivalis administration to wild-type mice induced pancreatic acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), and altered the composition of the intrapancreatic microbiome. In iKC mice, P. gingivalis accelerated PanIN to PDAC progression. In vitro, P. gingivalis infection induced acinar cell ADM markers SOX9 and CK19, and intracellular bacteria protected PDAC cells from reactive oxygen species-mediated cell death resulting from nutrient stress.

Conclusion Taken together, our findings demonstrate a causal role for P. gingivalis in pancreatic cancer development in mice.


Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. Next generation sequencing files were deposited in NCBI under BioProject ID PRJNA1005478.

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