Gut bacterial toxins are thought to contribute to the development of colorectal cancer (CRC). This study examines the presence of specific gut bacterial toxin genes in stool samples from individuals with colorectal neoplasia (adenomas and/or CRC). The presence of bacterial genes encoding genotoxic or pro-inflammatory factors (pks, tcpC, gelE, cnf-1, AMmurB, and usp) was established by PCR of stool samples from individuals from mainland US (n = 30; controls = 10, adenoma = 10, CRC = 10) and from Puerto Rico (PR) (n = 33; controls = 13; adenomas = 8; CRC = 12). Logistic regression models and multinomial logistic regression models were used to estimate the magnitude of association. Distinct bacterial gene profiles were observed in each sample cohort. In individuals with CRC, AMmurB was detected more frequently in samples from the US and gelE in samples from PR. In samples from PR, individuals with ≥2 gut bacterial toxin genes in stool had higher odds of having colorectal neoplasia (OR = 11.0, 95%: CI 1.0⁻637.1): however, no significant association between bacterial genes and colorectal neoplasia was observed in the US cohort. Further analyses are warranted in a larger cohort to validate these preliminary findings, but these encouraging results highlight the importance of developing bacterial markers as tools for CRC diagnosis or risk stratification.
Keywords: colorectal cancer; colorectal neoplasia; gut microbiota; microbial biomarkers.