Recent studies investigating the human microbiome have identified particular bacterial species that correlate with the presence of colorectal cancer. To evaluate the role of qualitatively different but naturally occurring gut microbiota and the relationship with colorectal cancer development, genetically identical embryos from the Polyposis in Rat Colon (Pirc) rat model of colorectal cancer were transferred into recipients of three different genetic backgrounds (F344/NHsd, LEW/SsNHsd, and Crl:SD). Tumor development in the pups was tracked longitudinally via colonoscopy, and end-stage tumor burden was determined. To confirm vertical transmission and identify associations between the gut microbiota and disease phenotype, the fecal microbiota was characterized in recipient dams 24 hours pre-partum, and in Pirc rat offspring prior to and during disease progression. Our data show that the gut microbiota varies between rat strains, with LEW/SsNHsd having a greater relative abundance of the bacteria Prevotella copri. The mature gut microbiota of pups resembled the profile of their dams, indicating that the dam is the primary determinant of the developing microbiota. Both male and female F344-Pirc rats harboring the Lewis microbiota had decreased tumor burden relative to genetically identical rats harboring F344 or SD microbiota. Significant negative correlations were detected between tumor burden and the relative abundance of specific taxa from samples taken at weaning and shortly thereafter, prior to observable adenoma development. Notably, this naturally occurring variation in the gut microbiota is associated with a significant difference in severity of colorectal cancer, and the abundance of certain taxa is associated with decreased tumor burden.
- Colorectal cancer
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