Gut microbiota-mediated nucleotide synthesis attenuates the response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in rectal cancer

Cancer Cell. 2023 Jan 9;41(1):124-138.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.ccell.2022.11.013. Epub 2022 Dec 22.


Preoperative neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy (nCRT) is a standard treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC) patients, yet little is known about the mediators underlying the heterogeneous patient response. In this longitudinal study, we performed 16S rRNA sequencing on 353 fecal specimens and find reduced microbial diversity after nCRT. Multi-omics data integration reveals that Bacteroides vulgatus-mediated nucleotide biosynthesis associates with nCRT resistance in LARC patients, and nonresponsive tumors are characterized by the upregulation of genes related to DNA repair and nucleoside transport. Nucleosides supplementation or B. vulgatus gavage protects cancer cells from the 5-fluorouracil or irradiation treatment. An analysis of 2,205 serum samples from 735 patients suggests that uric acid is a potential prognosis marker for LARC patients receiving nCRT. Our data unravel the role of intestinal microbiota-mediated nucleotide biosynthesis in the response of rectal tumors to nCRT, and highlight the importance of deciphering the cross-talk between cancer cells and gut microorganisms during cancer therapies.

Keywords: DNA repair; gut microbiota; neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy; nucleotide synthesis; rectal cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Chemoradiotherapy
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy
  • Nucleotides / therapeutic use
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Rectal Neoplasms* / therapy


  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • Nucleotides