Gut microbiota alterations are distinct for primary colorectal cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma

Wei Jia*, Cynthia Rajani, Hongxi Xu, Xiaojiao Zheng*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Colorectal cancer (CRC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are the second and third most common causes of death by cancer, respectively. The etiologies of the two cancers are either infectious insult or due to chronic use of alcohol, smoking, diet, obesity and diabetes. Pathological changes in the composition of the gut microbiota that lead to intestinal inflammation are a common factor for both HCC and CRC. However, the gut microbiota of the cancer patient evolves with disease pathogenesis in unique ways that are affected by etiologies and environmental factors. In this review, we examine the changes that occur in the composition of the gut microbiota across the stages of the HCC and CRC. Based on the idea that the gut microbiota are an additional “lifeline” and contribute to the tumor microenvironment, we can observe from previously published literature how the microbiota can cause a shift in the balance from normal → inflammation → diminished inflammation from early to later disease stages. This pattern leads to the hypothesis that tumor survival depends on a less pro-inflammatory tumor microenvironment. The differences observed in the gut microbiota composition between different disease etiologies as well as between HCC and CRC suggest that the tumor microenvironment is unique for each case.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374–393
Number of pages20
JournalProtein and Cell
Issue number5
Early online date14 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Drug Discovery
  • Cell Biology

User-Defined Keywords

  • colorectal cancer
  • gut microbiota
  • hepatocellular carcinoma


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