Mouth Bacteria Linked To Esophageal Cancer Prognosis

A type of bacteria usually found in the human mouth has been linked poorer outcomes in esophageal cancer patients.

AsianScientist (Dec. 14, 2016) – The type of bacteria in your mouth could predict whether you will survive a bout of esophageal cancer, according to research published in Clinical Cancer Research.

Over 100 trillion bacteria from hundreds of different species live in different parts of the human body, playing an important role in maintaining homeostasis. Recently, intestinal bacterial flora has been associated with various cancers and diseases ranging from diabetes to obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.

Fusobacterium nucleatum is commonly found in the mouth and is the causative agent of periodontal disease. Due to the close proximity of the oral cavity to the esophagus, and the recent implication of F. nucleatum in colorectal cancer, researchers from Kumamoto University decided to investigate if it also played a role in esophageal cancer.

Using real-time PCR analysis, they assessed DNA in the cancer tissue of 325 patients who underwent surgical removal of esophageal cancer at Kumamoto University Hospital and found that 74 out of 325 patients (nearly 23 percent) had F. nucleatum in their cancer tissues.

Researchers then compared the after-surgery survival time between patients whose esophageal cancer tissues tested positive for F. nucleatum with those that didn’t and controlled for survival factors such as age, tobacco use, tumor stage. They found that the group with F. nucleatum in their cancer tissues had significantly shorter survival times.

The researchers further analyzed differences in the genes of patients with esophageal cancer using RNA extracted from the tissues of F. nucleatum positive and negative esophageal cancers. They found that a group of genes related to inflammatory cytokines was different in patients with F. nucleatum positive esophageal cancer.

“This study suggested that the oral cavity bacterium F. nucleatum may be involved in the development and progression of esophageal cancer via chemokines,” said Professor Hideo Baba, who lead the research. “It should be noted that it is still unknown whether F. nucleatum itself causes esophageal cancer.”

“Further analysis by more institutions, preferably world-wide, is desired since intestinal flora differs between individuals. In future research, after elucidating the role of F. nucleatum in esophageal cancer development in more detail, we should be able to develop new drugs to better treat this form of cancer.”

The article can be found at: Yamamura et al. (2016) Human Microbiome Fusobacterium Nucleatum in Esophageal Cancer Tissue is Associated with Prognosis.


Source: Kumamoto University; Photo: Shutterstock.
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