The gastrointestinal microbiota and colorectal cancer

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2015 Mar 1;308(5):G351-63. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00360.2012. Epub 2014 Dec 24.


The human gut is home to a complex and diverse microbiota that contributes to the overall homeostasis of the host. Increasingly, the intestinal microbiota is recognized as an important player in human illness such as colorectal cancer (CRC), inflammatory bowel diseases, and obesity. CRC in itself is one of the major causes of cancer mortality in the Western world. The mechanisms by which bacteria contribute to CRC are complex and not fully understood, but increasing evidence suggests a link between the intestinal microbiota and CRC as well as diet and inflammation, which are believed to play a role in carcinogenesis. It is thought that the gut microbiota interact with dietary factors to promote chronic inflammation and CRC through direct influence on host cell physiology, cellular homeostasis, energy regulation, and/or metabolism of xenobiotics. This review provides an overview on the role of commensal gut microbiota in the development of human CRC and explores its association with diet and inflammation.

Keywords: bacterial metabolites; colorectal adenoma; diet; inflammation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*