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The Role of the Gut Microbiota in Colorectal Cancer Causation

Dietetics Department, Al Nahdha Hospital, Ministry of Health, P.O. Box 937, Ruwi, Muscat PC 112, Oman
Department of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University of Reading, Reading RG6 6UA, UK
Department of Applied and Health Sciences, University of Northumbria, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20(21), 5295;
Received: 30 September 2019 / Revised: 18 October 2019 / Accepted: 23 October 2019 / Published: 24 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of the Dysbiotic Microbiota in Cancer)
Here, we reviewed emerging evidence on the role of the microbial community in colorectal carcinogenesis. A healthy gut microbiota promotes intestinal homeostasis and can exert anti-cancer effects; however, this microbiota also produces a variety of metabolites that are genotoxic and which can negatively influence epithelial cell behaviour. Disturbances in the normal microbial balance, known as dysbiosis, are frequently observed in colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. Microbial species linked to CRC include certain strains of Bacteroides fragilis, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus gallolyticus, Enterococcus faecalis and Fusobacterium nucleatum, amongst others. Whether these microbes are merely passive dwellers exploiting the tumour environment, or rather, active protagonists in the carcinogenic process is the subject of much research. The incidence of chemically-induced tumours in mice models varies, depending upon the presence or absence of these microorganisms, thus strongly suggesting influences on disease causation. Putative mechanistic explanations differentially link these strains to DNA damage, inflammation, aberrant cell behaviour and immune suppression. In the future, modulating the composition and metabolic activity of this microbial community may have a role in prevention and therapy. View Full-Text
Keywords: colorectal cancer; microbiota; Fusobacteria; Bacteroides; Streptococcus Gallolyticus; Escherichia coli; genotoxicity; gut colorectal cancer; microbiota; Fusobacteria; Bacteroides; Streptococcus Gallolyticus; Escherichia coli; genotoxicity; gut
MDPI and ACS Style

Alhinai, E.A.; Walton, G.E.; Commane, D.M. The Role of the Gut Microbiota in Colorectal Cancer Causation. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 5295.

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