Ecophysiological consequences of alcoholism on human gut microbiota: Implications for ethanol-related pathogenesis of colon cancer

Atsuki Tsuruya, Akika Kuwahara, Yuta Saito, Haruhiko Yamaguchi, Takahisa Tsubo, Shogo Suga, Makoto Inai, Yuichi Aoki, Seiji Takahashi, Eri Tsutsumi, Yoshihide Suwa, Hidetoshi Morita, Kenji Kinoshita, Yukari Totsuka, Wataru Suda, Kenshiro Oshima, Masahira Hattori, Takeshi Mizukami, Akira Yokoyama, Takefumi ShimoyamaToru Nakayama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Chronic consumption of excess ethanol increases the risk of colorectal cancer. The pathogenesis of ethanol-related colorectal cancer (ER-CRC) is thought to be partly mediated by gut microbes. Specifically, bacteria in the colon and rectum convert ethanol to acetaldehyde (AcH), which is carcinogenic. However, the effects of chronic ethanol consumption on the human gut microbiome are poorly understood, and the role of gut microbes in the proposed AcH-mediated pathogenesis of ER-CRC remains to be elaborated. Here we analyse and compare the gut microbiota structures of non-alcoholics and alcoholics. The gut microbiotas of alcoholics were diminished in dominant obligate anaerobes (e.g., Bacteroides and Ruminococcus) and enriched in Streptococcus and other minor species. This alteration might be exacerbated by habitual smoking. These observations could at least partly be explained by the susceptibility of obligate anaerobes to reactive oxygen species, which are increased by chronic exposure of the gut mucosa to ethanol. The AcH productivity from ethanol was much lower in the faeces of alcoholic patients than in faeces of non-alcoholic subjects. The faecal phenotype of the alcoholics could be rationalised based on their gut microbiota structures and the ability of gut bacteria to accumulate AcH from ethanol.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27923
JournalScientific reports
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 13

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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