Integrated In Vitro and In Silico Modeling Delineates the Molecular Effects of a Synbiotic Regimen on Colorectal-Cancer-Derived Cells

Cell Rep. 2019 Apr 30;27(5):1621-1632.e9. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2019.04.001.


By modulating the human gut microbiome, prebiotics and probiotics (combinations of which are called synbiotics) may be used to treat diseases such as colorectal cancer (CRC). Methodological limitations have prevented determining the potential combinatorial mechanisms of action of such regimens. We expanded our HuMiX gut-on-a-chip model to co-culture CRC-derived epithelial cells with a model probiotic under a simulated prebiotic regimen, and we integrated the multi-omic results with in silico metabolic modeling. In contrast to individual prebiotic or probiotic treatments, the synbiotic regimen caused downregulation of genes involved in procarcinogenic pathways and drug resistance, and reduced levels of the oncometabolite lactate. Distinct ratios of organic and short-chain fatty acids were produced during the simulated regimens. Treatment of primary CRC-derived cells with a molecular cocktail reflecting the synbiotic regimen attenuated self-renewal capacity. Our integrated approach demonstrates the potential of modeling for rationally formulating synbiotics-based treatments in the future.

Keywords: colorectal cancer; gut microbiome; gut-on-a-chip; modeling; nutritional therapy; prebiotic; probiotic; symbiotic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Intestinal Mucosa / microbiology*
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus / pathogenicity
  • Prebiotics / microbiology
  • Probiotics / pharmacology


  • Prebiotics