Prospective and Cross-sectional Associations of the Rectal Tissue Microbiome with Colorectal Adenoma Recurrence

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2023 Mar 6;32(3):435-443. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-22-0608.


Background: The gut microbiome is plausibly associated with colorectal cancer risk; however, previous studies mostly investigated this association cross-sectionally. We investigated cross-sectional and prospective associations of the rectal tissue microbiome with adenoma recurrence in the Polyp Prevention Trial (PPT).

Methods: PPT is a 4-year randomized clinical trial of the effect of a dietary intervention on adenoma recurrence among community members. We extracted DNA from rectal biopsies at baseline, end of year 1, and end of year 4 among 455 individuals and sequenced the V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene. At each timepoint, we investigated associations of alpha diversity, beta diversity, and presence and relative abundance of select taxa with adenoma recurrence using multivariable logistic regression.

Results: Variation in beta diversity was primarily explained by subject and minimally by year of collection or time between biopsy and colonoscopy. Cross-sectionally, year 4 alpha diversity was strongly, inversely associated with adenoma prevalence [ORQ3 vs. Q1 Shannon index = 0.40 (95% confidence interval, CI: 0.21-0.76)]. Prospective alpha diversity associations (i.e., baseline/year 1 alpha diversity with adenoma recurrence 3-4 years later) were weak or null, as were cross-sectional and prospective beta diversity-adenoma associations. Bacteroides abundance was more strongly, positively associated with adenoma prevalence cross-sectionally than prospectively.

Conclusions: Rectal tissue microbiome profiles may be associated with prevalent adenomas, with little evidence supporting prospective associations.

Impact: Additional prospective studies, with serial fecal and tissue samples, to explore microbiome-colorectal cancer associations are needed. Eventually, it may be possible to use microbiome characteristics as intervenable risk factors or screening tools.

Trial registration: NCT00339625.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma* / epidemiology
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota*
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S

Associated data