Gut microbiota and fatigue in rectal cancer patients: a cross-sectional pilot study

Velda J. González-Mercado, Jean Lim, Sara Marrero, Elsa Pedro, Leorey N. Saligan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Although microbial-mediated disturbance of intestinal mucosal homeostasis (dysbiosis) is believed to contribute to the pathogenesis of chemotherapy and radiotherapy (CRT)–related fatigue, potential differences in the gut microbial diversity and in the abundance of gut microbial taxa between fatigued and non-fatigued patients have not been adequately examined, particularly in the rectal cancer population. Purpose: In this cross-sectional study, we aim to examine the differences in (a) gut microbial diversity and gut microbial abundances and (b) predicted functional pathways of the gut microbiome between rectal cancer participants with and without fatigue at the end of CRT. Methods: Rectal cancer patients (n = 50) provided stool samples for 16S rRNA gene sequencing and symptom ratings for fatigue at the end of CRT. Gut microbiome data were analyzed using QIIME2, LEfSe, and the R statistical package. Results: Fatigued (n = 35) participants showed enriched bacterial abundances of Eubacterium, Streptococcus, Adlercreutzia, and Actinomyces, as well as enriched abundances of the microbial sucrose degradation pathway, compared to non-fatigued patients at the end of CRT (n = 15). Conclusions: Differentially abundant microbial taxa were identified in fatigued and non-fatigued rectal cancer participants at the end of CRT. However, the exact role of these taxa (and identification of species) in the biology of CRT-related fatigue remains to be examined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4615-4621
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021


  • Chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • Fatigue
  • Gut microbial taxa
  • Rectal cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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