Gastrointestinal tumor growth is thought to be promoted by gastrointestinal bacteria and their inflammatory products. We observed that intestine-specific conditional Apc mutant mice (FabplCre;Apc (15lox/+)) developed many more colorectal tumors under conventional than under pathogen-low housing conditions. Shotgun metagenomic sequencing plus quantitative PCR analysis of feces DNA revealed the presence of two bacterial species in conventional mice, absent from pathogen-low mice. One, Helicobacter typhlonius, has not been associated with cancer in man, nor in immune-competent mice. The other species, mucin-degrading Akkermansia muciniphila, is abundantly present in healthy humans, but reduced in patients with inflammatory gastrointestinal diseases and in obese and type 2 diabetic mice. Eradication of H.typhlonius in young conventional mice by antibiotics decreased the number of intestinal tumors. Additional presence of A.muciniphila prior to the antibiotic treatment reduced the tumor number even further. Colonization of pathogen-low FabplCre;Apc (15lox/+) mice with H.typhlonius or A.muciniphila increased the number of intestinal tumors, the thickness of the intestinal mucus layer and A.muciniphila colonization without H.typhlonius increased the density of mucin-producing goblet cells. However, dual colonization with H.typhlonius and A.muciniphila significantly reduced the number of intestinal tumors, the mucus layer thickness and goblet cell density to that of control mice. By global microbiota composition analysis, we found a positive association of A.muciniphila, and of H.typhlonius, and a negative association of unclassified Clostridiales with increased tumor burden. We conclude that A.muciniphila and H.typhlonius can modulate gut microbiota composition and intestinal tumor development in mice.
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