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News Asia Pacific

Japanese researchers have found that the oral pathogen Fusobacterium nucleatum may be related to the development of oseophageal cancer. (Photograph: bogdanhoda/Shutterstock)
0 Comments Dec 15, 2016 | News Asia Pacific

Oral bacterium related to oesophageal cancer prognosis

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KUMAMOTO, Japan: Previous research has shown that several types of oral bacteria contribute to the development of cancers such as colon cancer, pancreatic cancer and oesophageal cancer. A new study by Japanese researchers has now suggested that another pathogen commonly found in the oral cavity, Fusobacterium nucleatum, might be related to the development of oesophageal cancer.

It was recently reported that F. nucleatum, which is also known to cause periodontal disease, was often detected in colon cancer tissue and that it may have an effect on the development of colorectal cancer. This led researchers at Kumamoto University in Japan to suspect that F. nucleatum might also play an important role in causing oesophageal cancer due to the proximity of the oral cavity to the oesophagus.

Using real-time PCR (polymerase chain reaction) analysis, they assessed the DNA of cancerous tissue of 325 patients who underwent surgery to remove oesophageal cancer at Kumamoto University Hospital. They found that 74 out of 325 patients (nearly 23 per cent) had F. nucleatum in their cancer tissue. The researchers then compared the after-surgery survival time of patients whose oesophageal cancer tissues tested positive for F. nucleatum with those with tissue that did not.

The researchers found that the group with F. nucleatum in their cancer tissue had significantly shorter survival times. Moreover, the number of genes of specific chemokines—proteins related to the transport of white blood cells—was increased in patients with F. nucleatum in their cancer tissue, which lead to more aggressive tumour behaviour.

“This study suggested that the oral cavity bacterium F. nucleatum may be involved in the development and progression of oesophageal cancer via chemokines,” said lead author Prof. Hideo Baba from the Department of Gastroenterological Surgery at the university. “It should be noted that it is still unknown whether F. nucleatum itself causes oesophageal cancer,” he added. However, he and his co-authors suggest that F. nucleatum might be a potential prognostic biomarker for oesophageal cancer. “In future research, after elucidating the role of F. nucleatum in oesophageal cancer development in more detail, we should be able to develop new drugs to better treat this form of cancer,” Baba concluded.

The study, titled “Human Microbiome Fusobacterium Nucleatum in Esophageal Cancer Tissue Is Associated with Prognosis”, was published online in the Clinical Cancer Research journal on 15 November.

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