A systemic review of the role of enterotoxic Bacteroides fragilis in colorectal cancer

Nancy Scott, Emma Whittle, Patricio Jeraldo, Nicholas Chia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF) has received significant attention for a possible association with, or causal role in, colorectal cancer (CRC). The goal of this review was to assess the status of the published evidence supporting (i) the association between ETBF and CRC and (ii) the causal role of ETBF in CRC. PubMed and Scopus searches were performed in August 2021 to identify human, animal, and cell studies pertaining to the role of ETBF in CRC. Inclusion criteria included the use of cell lines, mice, exposure to BFT or ETBF, and detection of bft. Review studies were excluded, and studies were limited to the English language. Quality of study design and risk of bias analysis was performed on the cell, animal, and human studies using ToxRTools, SYRCLE, and NOS, respectively. Ninety-five eligible studies were identified, this included 22 human studies, 24 animal studies, 43 cell studies, and 6 studies that included both cells and mice studies. We found that a large majority of studies supported an association or causal role of ETBF in CRC, as well as high levels of study bias was detected in the in vitro and in vivo studies. The high-level heterogeneity in study design and reporting made it difficult to synthesize these findings into a unified conclusion, suggesting that the need for future studies that include improved mechanistic models, longitudinal in vitro and in vivo evidence, and appropriate control of confounding factors will be required to confirm whether ETBF has a direct role in CRC etiopathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100797
JournalNeoplasia (United States)
StatePublished - Jul 2022


  • B. fragilis toxin (BFT)
  • Colorectal cancer (CRC)
  • Enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis (ETBF)
  • Etiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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