*EMBARGOED All research presented at the 2018 ACG Annual Scientific Meeting and Postgraduate Course is strictly embargoed until Monday, October 8, 2018, at 8:00 am EDT.

Rachel Sarnoff, BA
Rachel Sarnoff, BA

P1003 Gut Microbial Composition in Human Colons Associated With Polyp Development

Author Insight from Rachel Sarnoff, BA, NYU School of Medicine

What’s new here and important for clinicians?

Inspired in part by the recent rise in the incidence of colon cancer in patients under 50 years old, we conducted a pilot study focused on the potential role of the microbiome in the development of colon polyps. Previous studies had looked at the microbiome associated with human colon cancer tissue itself, but none had examined the microbiome in association with colon polyps. Because polyps precede most colon cancers, it is important to study them to better understand colon cancer pathophysiology.

We recruited 56 participants from our VA hospital who were presenting for routine colonoscopy. We collected aspirates from the colon during the procedure, and we analyzed the microbiome by 16S rRNA gene sequencing to assess the microbial composition. We found that the microbiome from participants who had colon polyps differed from those without polyps. More specifically, in polyp producers, we found an overrepresentation of bacteria that produce a particular short-chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is one of the products of bacterial fermentation. Given this initial finding, we conducted a second study at Bellevue Hospital, where we recruited 17 participants presenting for screening colonoscopy. We obtained biopsies directly from polyp surfaces and from unaffected healthy colon mucosa and again examined for differences in the microbiome. In these patients, we found that the microbiome specifically associated with the polyp had an overrepresentation of butyrate-producing bacteria compared with the healthy mucosa.

This preliminary study revealed a previously undescribed association between the mucosal microbiome and polyp production in the human colon. If confirmed in larger studies, these findings suggest that butyrate production by colonic bacteria could play a role in neoplasia, or may be a marker for its development. Further studies are needed to verify these data before any conclusions about current clinical practices can be made.

What do patients need to know?

From this preliminary study, we learned that certain microbial compositions in the human colon are associated with colonic polyps. However, further research is needed before any change in guidelines for patients can be suggested.

We advise all of our patients to speak with their health care provider about when they should begin screening for colorectal cancer. Routine screening is essential for prevention of colorectal cancer.

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Author Contact
Rachel Sarnoff, BA, NYU School of Medicine

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