Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Colorectal Cancer

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2016 Sep 8;70:395-411. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-102215-095513.


Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States and fourth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. While cancer is largely considered to be a disease of genetic and environmental factors, increasing evidence has demonstrated a role for the microbiota (the microorganisms associated with the human body) in shaping inflammatory environments and promoting tumor growth and spread. Herein, we discuss both human data from meta'omics analyses and data from mechanistic studies in cell culture and animal models that support specific bacterial agents as potentiators of tumorigenesis-including Fusobacterium nucleatum, enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, and colibactin-producing Escherichia coli. Further, we consider how microbes can be used in diagnosing colorectal cancer and manipulating the tumor environment to encourage better patient outcomes in response to immunotherapy treatments.

Keywords: Fusobacterium; colitis; colorectal cancer; inflammation; microbiota/microbiome; mucosal immunology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / microbiology*