Gut Microbiome and Colon Cancer: Role of Bacterial Metabolites and Their Molecular Targets in the Host

Yangzom D. Bhutia, Jiro Ogura, Sathish Sivaprakasam, Vadivel Ganapathy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose of Review: The relationship between colonic bacteria and the host is symbiotic, but how communication between the two partners occurs is just beginning to be understood at the molecular level. Here, we highlight specific products of bacterial metabolism that are present in the colonic lumen and their molecular targets in the host that facilitate this communication. Recent Findings: Colonic epithelial cells and mucosal immune cells express several cell surface receptors and nuclear receptors that are activated by specific bacterial metabolites, which impact multiple signaling pathways and expression of many genes. In addition, some bacterial metabolites also possess the ability to cause epigenetic changes in these cells via inhibition of selective enzymes involved in the maintenance of histone acetylation and DNA methylation patterns. Summary: Colonic bacteria communicate with their host with selective metabolites that interact with host molecular targets. This chemical communication underlies a broad range of the biology and function of colonic epithelial cells and mucosal immune cells, which protect against inflammation and carcinogenesis in the colon under normal physiological conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Colorectal Cancer Reports
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Apr 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Bacteria-host symbiosis
  • Bacterial metabolites
  • Cell surface receptors
  • Colon cancer
  • Colonic inflammation
  • Epigenetics
  • HIF1α-prolylhydroxylases
  • Histone deacetylases
  • NDRG3
  • Nuclear receptors
  • TET DNA demethylases

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Oncology
  • Gastroenterology


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