Impact of pelvic radiotherapy on gut microbiota of gynecological cancer patients revealed by massive pyrosequencing

PLoS One. 2013 Dec 18;8(12):e82659. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0082659. eCollection 2013.

Abstract

Although pelvic irradiation is effective for the treatment of various cancer types, many patients who receive radiotherapy experience serious complications. Gut microbial dysbiosis was hypothesized to be related to the occurrence of radiation-induced complications in cancer patients. Given the lack of clinical or experimental data on the impact of radiation on gut microbiota, a prospective observational study of gut microbiota was performed in gynecological cancer patients receiving pelvic radiotherapy. In the current study, the overall composition and alteration of gut microbiota in cancer patients receiving radiation were investigated by 454 pyrosequencing. Gut microbial composition showed significant differences (P < 0.001) between cancer patients and healthy individuals. The numbers of species-level taxa were severely reduced after radiotherapy (P < 0.045), and the abundance of each community largely changed. In particular, the phyla Firmicutes and Fusobacterium were significantly decreased by 10% and increased by 3% after radiation therapy, respectively. In addition, overall gut microbial composition was gradually remolded after the full treatment course of pelvic radiotherapy. In this set of cancer patients, dysbiosis of the gut microbiota was linked to health status, and the gut microbiota was influenced by pelvic radiotherapy. Although further studies are needed to elucidate the relationship between dysbiosis and complications induced by pelvic radiotherapy, the current study may offer insights into the treatment of cancer patients suffering from complications after radiation therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / microbiology*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics

Substances

  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Grant support

This work was supported by a grant from the Mid-Career Researcher Program (2011-0028854 to J.-W. B.) through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (MEST); SNUH CRI grant (0620122120), and nonprofit research donation for integrative medicine from SK Holdings and the late Chairman Jong-Hyun Choi. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.