Role of the Gut Microbiota and Its Metabolites in Tumorigenesis or Development of Colorectal Cancer

Adv Sci (Weinh). 2023 Aug;10(23):e2205563. doi: 10.1002/advs.202205563. Epub 2023 Jun 1.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the most common cancer of the digestive system with high mortality and morbidity rates. Gut microbiota is found in the intestines, especially the colorectum, and has structured crosstalk interactions with the host that affect several physiological processes. The gut microbiota include CRC-promoting bacterial species, such as Fusobacterium nucleatum, Escherichia coli, and Bacteroides fragilis, and CRC-protecting bacterial species, such as Clostridium butyricum, Streptococcus thermophilus, and Lacticaseibacillus paracasei, which along with other microorganisms, such as viruses and fungi, play critical roles in the development of CRC. Different bacterial features are identified in patients with early-onset CRC, combined with different patterns between fecal and intratumoral microbiota. The gut microbiota may be beneficial in the diagnosis and treatment of CRC; some bacteria may serve as biomarkers while others as regulators of chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Furthermore, metabolites produced by the gut microbiota play essential roles in the crosstalk with CRC cells. Harmful metabolites include some primary bile acids and short-chain fatty acids, whereas others, including ursodeoxycholic acid and butyrate, are beneficial and impede tumor development and progression. This review focuses on the gut microbiota and its metabolites, and their potential roles in the development, diagnosis, and treatment of CRC.

Keywords: colorectal cancer; gut microbiota; intratumoral microbiota; metabolite; probiotic bacteria; tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Escherichia coli
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / physiology
  • Humans