Background: Accumulating evidence links colorectal cancer (CRC) with the intestinal microbiota. However, the disturbance of intestinal microbiota and the role of Fusobacterium nucleatum during the colorectal adenoma-carcinoma sequence have not yet been evaluated.
Methods: 454 FLX pyrosequencing was used to evaluate the disturbance of intestinal microbiota during the adenoma-carcinoma sequence pathway of CRC. Intestinal microbiota and mucosa tumor-immune cytokines were detected in mice after introducing 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH), F. nucleatum or Berberine (BBR), using pyrosequencing and Bio-Plex Pro™ cytokine assays, respectively. Protein expressions were detected by western blotting.
Results: The levels of opportunistic pathogens, such as Fusobacterium, Streptococcus and Enterococcus spp. gradually increased during the colorectal adenoma-carcinoma sequence in human fecal and mucosal samples. F. nucleatum treatment significantly altered lumen microbial structures, with increased Tenericutes and Verrucomicrobia (opportunistic pathogens) (P < 0.05 = in wild-type C57BL/6 and mice with DMH treatment). BBR intervention reversed the F. nucleatum-mediated increase in opportunistic pathogens, and the secretion of IL-21/22/31, CD40L and the expression of p-STAT3, p-STAT5 and p-ERK1/2 in mice, compared with mice fed with F. nucleatum alone.
Conclusions: F. nucleatum colonization in the intestine may prompt colorectal tumorigenesis. BBR could rescue F. nucleatum-induced colorectal tumorigenesis by modulating the tumor microenvironment and blocking the activation of tumorigenesis-related pathways.
Keywords: Fusobacterium nucleatum; berberine; colorectal tumorigenesis; intestinal microbiota; tumor-immune cytokine.