Impact of Pelvic Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer on Global Metabolic Profiles and Microbiota-Driven Gastrointestinal Late Side Effects: A Longitudinal Observational Study

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2021 Dec 1;111(5):1204-1213. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2021.07.1713. Epub 2021 Aug 2.


Purpose: Radiation therapy to the prostate and pelvic lymph nodes (PLNRT) is part of the curative treatment of high-risk prostate cancer. Yet, the broader influence of radiation therapy on patient physiology is poorly understood. We conducted comprehensive global metabolomic profiling of urine, plasma, and stools sampled from patients undergoing PLNRT for high-risk prostate cancer.

Methods and materials: Samples were taken from 32 patients at 6 timepoints: baseline, 2 to 3 and 4 to 5 weeks of PLNRT; and 3, 6, and 12 months after PLNRT. We characterized the global metabolome of urine and plasma using 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and ultraperformance liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and of stools with nuclear magnetic resonance. Linear mixed-effects modeling was used to investigate metabolic changes between timepoints for each biofluid and assay and determine metabolites of interest.

Results: Metabolites in urine, plasma and stools changed significantly after PLNRT initiation. Metabolic profiles did not return to baseline up to 1 year post-PLNRT in any biofluid. Molecules associated with cardiovascular risk were increased in plasma. Pre-PLNRT fecal butyrate levels directly associated with increasing gastrointestinal side effects, as did a sharper fall in those levels during and up to 1 year postradiation therapy, mirroring our previous results with metataxonomics.

Conclusions: We showed for the first time that an overall metabolic effect is observed in patients undergoing PLNRT up to 1 year posttreatment. These metabolic changes may effect on long-term morbidity after treatment, which warrants further investigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't