Metabolism links bacterial biofilms and colon carcinogenesis

Cell Metab. 2015 Jun 2;21(6):891-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2015.04.011. Epub 2015 May 7.


Bacterial biofilms in the colon alter the host tissue microenvironment. A role for biofilms in colon cancer metabolism has been suggested but to date has not been evaluated. Using metabolomics, we investigated the metabolic influence that microbial biofilms have on colon tissues and the related occurrence of cancer. Patient-matched colon cancers and histologically normal tissues, with or without biofilms, were examined. We show the upregulation of polyamine metabolites in tissues from cancer hosts with significant enhancement of N(1), N(12)-diacetylspermine in both biofilm-positive cancer and normal tissues. Antibiotic treatment, which cleared biofilms, decreased N(1), N(12)-diacetylspermine levels to those seen in biofilm-negative tissues, indicating that host cancer and bacterial biofilm structures contribute to the polyamine metabolite pool. These results show that colonic mucosal biofilms alter the cancer metabolome to produce a regulator of cellular proliferation and colon cancer growth potentially affecting cancer development and progression.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena*
  • Biofilms*
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / microbiology
  • Colonic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spermine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Spermine / metabolism


  • Spermine
  • N',N''-diacetylspermine