Gut microbiota severely hampers the efficacy of NAD-lowering therapy in leukemia

Oussama ElMokh, Saki Matsumoto, Paulina Biniecka, Axel Bellotti, Karin Schaeuble, Francesco Piacente, Hector Gallart-Ayala, Julijana Ivanisevic, Ivan Stamenkovic, Alessio Nencioni, Aimable Nahimana, Michel A. Duchosal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Most cancer cells have high need for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) to sustain their survival. This led to the development of inhibitors of nicotinamide (NAM) phosphoribosyltransferase (NAMPT), the rate-limiting NAD+ biosynthesis enzyme from NAM. Such inhibitors kill cancer cells in preclinical studies but failed in clinical ones. To identify parameters that could negatively affect the therapeutic efficacy of NAMPT inhibitors and propose therapeutic strategies to circumvent such failure, we performed metabolomics analyses in tumor environment and explored the effect of the interaction between microbiota and cancer cells. Here we show that tumor environment enriched in vitamin B3 (NAM) or nicotinic acid (NA) significantly lowers the anti-tumor efficacy of APO866, a prototypic NAMPT inhibitor. Additionally, bacteria (from the gut, or in the medium) can convert NAM into NA and thus fuel an alternative NAD synthesis pathway through NA. This leads to the rescue from NAD depletion, prevents reactive oxygen species production, preserves mitochondrial integrity, blunts ATP depletion, and protects cancer cells from death. Our data in an in vivo preclinical model reveal that antibiotic therapy down-modulating gut microbiota can restore the anti-cancer efficacy of APO866. Alternatively, NAphosphoribosyltransferase inhibition may restore anti-cancer activity of NAMPT inhibitors in the presence of gut microbiota and of NAM in the diet.

Original languageEnglish
Article number320
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes


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