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Gut microbiome and pancreatic cancer cachexia: An evolving relationship


Nearly 80% of patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) develop cachexia along their disease course. Cachexia is characterized by progressive weight loss, muscle wasting, and systemic inflammation and has been linked to poorer outcomes and impairments in quality of life. Management of PDAC cachexia has historically involved a multidisciplinary effort comprised of nutritional support, pancreatic enzyme replacement therapy, and/or pharmacologic interventions. Despite current interventions to mitigate PDAC cachexia, a significant proportion of patients continue to die from complications associated with cachexia underscoring the need for novel insights and treatments for this syndrome. We highlight the feasibility and effectiveness of a recent enteral feeding prospective trial at our institution to improve cachexia outcomes in patients with advanced PDAC. Additionally, we were among the first to characterize the stool microbiome composition in patients with advanced PDAC receiving enteral feeding for the treatment of cachexia. Novel insights into the relationship between enteral nutritional support, cachexia, and the gut microbiome are presented. These promising results are discussed in the context of a potential ability to modulate the stool microbiome as a new interventional strategy to mitigate PDAC cachexia.

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