Signatures within the esophageal microbiome are associated with host genetics, age, and disease

Microbiome. 2018 Dec 17;6(1):227. doi: 10.1186/s40168-018-0611-4.


Background: The esophageal microbiome has been proposed to be involved in a range of diseases including the esophageal adenocarcinoma cascade; however, little is currently known about its function and relationship to the host. Here, the esophageal microbiomes of 106 prospectively recruited patients were assessed using 16S rRNA and 18S rRNA amplicon sequencing as well as shotgun sequencing, and associations with age, gender, proton pump inhibitor use, host genetics, and disease were tested.

Results: The esophageal microbiome was found to cluster into functionally distinct community types (esotypes) defined by the relative abundances of Streptococcus and Prevotella. While age was found to be a significant factor driving microbiome composition, bacterial signatures and functions such as enrichment with Gram-negative oral-associated bacteria and microbial lactic acid production were associated with the early stages of the esophageal adenocarcinoma cascade. Non-bacterial microbes such as archaea, Candida spp., and bacteriophages were also identified in low abundance in the esophageal microbiome. Specific host SNPs in NOTCH2, STEAP2-AS1, and NREP were associated with the composition of the esophageal microbiome in our cohort.

Conclusions: This study provides the most comprehensive assessment of the esophageal microbiome to date and identifies novel signatures and host markers that can be investigated further in the context of esophageal adenocarcinoma development.

Keywords: Community types; Esophagus; Metagenomics; Microbiota; Single nucleotide polymorphisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology*
  • Adenocarcinoma / microbiology
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacteriophages / classification*
  • Bacteriophages / genetics
  • Bacteriophages / isolation & purification
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Esophagus / microbiology*
  • Female
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Metagenomics / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins / genetics
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Prevotella / classification
  • Prevotella / genetics
  • Prevotella / isolation & purification
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Receptor, Notch2 / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Streptococcus / classification
  • Streptococcus / genetics
  • Streptococcus / isolation & purification


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Ribosomal
  • NOTCH2 protein, human
  • NREP protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • Receptor, Notch2
  • Lactic Acid

Supplementary concepts

  • Adenocarcinoma Of Esophagus