Gut Microbiome and Gastrointestinal Cancer: Les liaisons Dangereuses

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Abstract

Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers are the leading cause of mortality worldwide. These cancers are the end result of a complex interplay between gene and environment. Bacteria, parasites, and viruses have been implicated in some cancers. Recent data have put at focus the gut microbiome as the key player firing tumorigenesis. Experimental and human studies have provided evidence on the role of microbiota in cancer development. Although subject to changes in different settings such as antibiotic treatment, diet or lifestyle, our microbiome is quite stable and is capable of increasing susceptibility to cancer or decrease and halt its progression. The crucial event in carcinogenesis triggered by microbiome seems to be chronic inflammation influencing the genomic stability of host cells and activating immune mechanisms. Infection-related cancers represent 5.5% of the global cancer burden. Chronic inflammation predisposes to cancer in various GI organs, including hepatocellular carcinoma caused by hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus-related chronic hepatitis, gastric cancer (GC) caused by Helicobacter pylori-associated chronic gastritis, colorectal cancer caused by inflammatory bowel disease, bile duct cancer by primary sclerosing cholangitis, and esophageal cancer caused by Barrett esophagus. Apart from its impact in GI cancer development microbiota can also play an important role in the progression of cancer, response to chemotherapy or cancer prevention. In this review we will discuss the role of microbiome in GI cancers in the light of the current literature and the possible therapeutic options targeting microbiota in the near future.

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