The prevalence of invasive Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) within the serrated neoplasia pathway of the proximal colon has seldom been investigated. We examined the invasive Fn and bacterial biofilms in 35 proximal hyperplastic polyps (HPs), 33 sessile serrated adenomas (SSAs), 48 proximal colorectal cancers (CRCs) and 10 matched metastatic lymph nodes using 16S rRNA fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Samples of normal mucosa, traditional adenomas (TAs), distal HPs, distal CRCs and matched lymph nodes with or without metastases were used as controls. The prevalence of invasive Fn within proximal HPs (65.7%) and SSAs (78.8%) were significantly higher than that of proximal TAs (28.9%) and distal TAs (24.4%; p < 0.05). Invasive Fn was detected in markedly more proximal CRCs (89.6%) than in distal CRCs (42.2%; p < 0.05). Moreover, invasive Fn was detected in a significantly higher proportion of matched metastatic lymph nodes (100%) than that within nonmetastatic lymph nodes (40.0%; p < 0.001). Bacterial biofilms were found on 52.1% of proximal CRCs, 55.6% of distal CRCs and 48.5% of SSAs. Biofilms were positive for Fn in 47.9% of proximal CRCs, 48.9% of distal CRCs and 27.3% of SSAs. However, the presence of Fn in biofilms was not related to invasive Fn within colorectal tissues (p = 0.415). Invasive Fn may play a role in the carcinogenesis of proximal colon developing via the serrated neoplasia pathway, but might have a less important role in the TA-carcinoma sequence. Bacterial biofilms may not contribute to the invasion of Fn into tumor tissues.What's new?
A member of the oral microbiome, Fusobacterium nucleatum (Fn) is an opportunistic pathogen beyond the oral cavity. Notably, it is overabundant in colorectal tumors, where its presence frequently is associated with CpG island methylator phenotype-high lesions, which typically occur in the proximal colon. The present study suggests that invasive Fn is involved primarily in the carcinogenesis of proximal colon cancers that develop along the serrated neoplasia pathway, having only a minor role in the traditional adenoma-carcinoma sequence. The findings provide a basis for the investigation of novel tools for Fn detection and patient stratification in colorectal cancer.