Gut microbiome and colorectal adenomas

Cancer J. May-Jun 2014;20(3):225-31. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0000000000000050.


The trillions of bacteria that naturally reside in the human gut collectively constitute the complex system known the gut microbiome, a vital player for the host's homeostasis and health. However, there is mounting evidence that dysbiosis, a state of pathological imbalance in the gut microbiome is present in many disease states. In this review, we present recent insights concerning the gut microbiome's contribution to the development of colorectal adenomas and the subsequent progression to colorectal cancer (CRC). In the United States alone, CRC is the second leading cause of cancer deaths. As a result, there is a high interest in identifying risk factors for adenomas, which are intermediate precursors to CRC. Recent research on CRC and the microbiome suggest that modulation of the gut bacterial composition and structure may be useful in preventing adenomas and CRC. We highlight the known risk factors for colorectal adenomas and the potential mechanisms by which microbial dysbiosis may contribute to the etiology of CRC. We also underscore novel findings from recent studies on the gut microbiota and colorectal adenomas along with current knowledge gaps. Understanding the microbiome may provide promising new directions towards novel diagnostic tools, biomarkers, and therapeutic interventions for CRC.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / microbiology*
  • Adenoma / pathology
  • Animals
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Risk Factors