Health News

Fungi and Bacteria May Increase Risk of Neck and Head Cancers

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma or HNSCC is a common form of cancer that affects the mucous membranes of the throat, nose, and mouth. Certain risk factors include HPV infection, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Scientists at Sao Paulo State University in Brazil implemented a lab study to examine more about the metabolites in an organism. The results show that bacteria and fungi may stimulate genes linked to neck and head tumors.

The study is published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

The work of the scientists indicates that the metabolism of biofilms may stimulate tumor cells by allowing for cell signaling pathways needed for the development of a tumor. Biofilms happen when bacteria build up and set up a community.

More importantly, the research clarifies how biofilms release metabolites, which are the end or intermediate product of metabolism. The metabolites could change genetic expressions linked to the growth of tumor cells.

In this study, the scientists added metabolites to HNSCC cells and oral epithelial cells from biofilms. More specifically, they used those generated by a fungus called C. Albicans and a bacteria called S. aureus.

They stimulated both neoplastic and healthy cells in four hours or one day with dual and single biofilms of those microorganisms.

The results showed that biofilms result in changes in the genetic expression of cells in both cases.

Another important finding is that molecules released by fungi and bacteria in biofilms would change the activities of host cells far away from the main infection area.

The fungi and bacteria used in the study were not picked randomly. Instead, they were isolated from previous research. Controlling biofilms, including oral cavity hygiene and denture, plays an essential role in reducing the inflammatory process.

The head author of the study hopes that more doctors and dentists should cooperate to learn more about the oral microbiome, which is comprised of more than 700 strains of bacteria. In other words, more research is needed in this field.

In the future, the scientists of the study want to examine the prevalence of S. aureus and C. Albicans biofilms in the oral cavities and dentures of those with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma to learn more about whether these factors affect their prognosis.

They are especially interested in examining people with HPV-negative type, whose prognosis tends to be worse.