Gut microbiota and probiotics in colon tumorigenesis

Cancer Lett. 2011 Oct 28;309(2):119-27. doi: 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 24.


The human gastrointestinal tract harbors a complex and abundant microbial community reaching as high as 10(13)-10(14) microorganisms in the colon. This endogenous microbiota forms a symbiotic relationship with their eukaryotic host and this close partnership helps maintain homeostasis by performing essential and non-redundant tasks (e.g. nutrition/energy and, immune system balance, pathogen exclusion). Although this relationship is essential and beneficial to the host, various events (e.g. infection, diet, stress, inflammation) may impact microbial composition, leading to the formation of a dysbiotic microbiota, further impacting on health and disease states. For example, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, collectively termed inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), have been associated with the establishment of a dysbiotic microbiota. In addition, extra-intestinal disorders such as obesity and metabolic syndrome are also associated with the development of a dysbiotic microbiota. Consequently, there is an increasing interest in harnessing the power of the microbiome and modulating its composition as a means to alleviate intestinal pathologies/disorders and maintain health status. In this review, we will discuss the emerging relationship between the microbiota and development of colorectal cancer as well as present evidence that microbial manipulation (probiotic, prebiotic) impacts disease development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colon / microbiology*
  • Colon / pathology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / microbiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / microbiology
  • Metagenome*
  • Obesity / microbiology
  • Probiotics*
  • Symbiosis