Dysbiosis of the gut microbiome is associated with thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules and correlated with clinical index of thyroid function

Endocrine. 2019 Jun;64(3):564-574. doi: 10.1007/s12020-018-1831-x. Epub 2018 Dec 24.


Purpose: Thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules are the most prevalent form of thyroid endocrine disorder. The balance of gut microbiome is highly crucial for a healthy human body, especially for the immune and endocrine system. However, the relationship between gut microbiome and the thyroid endocrine disorders such as thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules has not been reported yet.

Methods: A cohort of 74 patients was recruited for this study. Among them, 20 patients had thyroid cancer, 18 patients had thyroid nodules, and 36 were matched healthy controls. Gut microbiome composition was analyzed by 16S rRNA (16S ribosomal RNA) gene-based sequencing protocol.

Results: We compared the gut microbiome results of 74 subjects and established the correlation between gut microbiome and thyroid endocrine function for both thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules. The results inferred that alpha and beta diversity were different for patients with thyroid tumor than the healthy controls (p < 0.01). In comparison to healthy controls, the relative abundance of Neisseria (p < 0.001) and Streptococcus (p < 0.001) was significantly higher for thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules. Butyricimonas (p < 0.001) and Lactobacillus (p < 0.001) displayed notably lower relative abundance for thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules, respectively. It was also found that the clinical indexes were correlated with gut microbiome.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that both thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules are associated with the composition of gut microbiome. These results may support further clinical diagnosis to a great extent and help in developing potential probiotics to facilitate the treatment of thyroid cancer and thyroid nodules.

Keywords: 16S rRNA gene sequencing; Clinical index; Gut microbiome; Thyroid cancer; Thyroid nodules.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dysbiosis / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thyroid Function Tests
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology*
  • Thyroid Gland / physiopathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / microbiology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Thyroid Nodule / microbiology
  • Thyroid Nodule / pathology*
  • Thyroid Nodule / physiopathology