Changes in Gut Microbiome Associated With Co-Occurring Symptoms Development During Chemo-Radiation for Rectal Cancer: A Proof of Concept Study

Velda J. González-Mercado, Wendy A. Henderson, Anujit Sarkar, Jean Lim, Leorey N. Saligan, Lawrence Berk, Larry Dishaw, Susan McMillan, Maureen Groer, Farrah Sepehri, Gail D’Eramo Melkus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: To examine a) whether there are significant differences in the severity of symptoms of fatigue, sleep disturbance, or depression between patients with rectal cancer who develop co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms before and at the end of chemotherapy and radiation therapy (CRT); b) differences in gut microbial diversity between those with co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms; and c) whether before-treatment diversity measurements and taxa abundances can predict co-occurrence of symptoms. Methods: Stool samples and symptom ratings were collected from 31 patients with rectal cancer prior to and at the end of (24–28 treatments) CRT. Descriptive statistics were computed and the Mann-Whitney U test was performed for symptoms. Gut microbiome data were analyzed using R’s vegan package software. Results: Participants with co-occurring symptoms reported greater severity of fatigue at the end of CRT than those with no symptoms. Bacteroides and Blautia2 abundances differed between participants with co-occurring symptoms and those with no symptoms. Our random forest classification (unsupervised learning algorithm) predicted participants who developed co-occurring symptoms with 74% accuracy, using specific phylum, family, and genera abundances as predictors. Conclusion: Our preliminary results point to an association between the gut microbiota and co-occurring symptoms in rectal cancer patients and serves as a first step in potential identification of a microbiota-based classifier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-41
Number of pages11
JournalBiological Research for Nursing
Volume23
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • chemotherapy and radiation therapy
  • co-occurrence of symptoms
  • gut microbiome
  • rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory

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