Linking diet to colorectal cancer: The emerging role of MicroRNA in the communication between plant and animal kingdoms

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Environmental and lifestyle factors, including diet and nutritional habits have been strongly linked to colorectal cancer (CRC). Of note, unhealthy dietary habits leading to adiposity represent a main risk factor for CRC and are associated with a chronic low-grade inflammatory status. Inflammation is a hallmark of almost every type of cancer and can be modulated by several food compounds exhibiting either protective or promoting effects. However, in spite of an extensive research, the underlying mechanisms by which dietary patterns or bioactive food components may influence tumor onset and outcome have not been fully clarified yet. Growing evidence indicates that diet, combining beneficial substances and potentially harmful ingredients, has an impact on the expression of key regulators of gene expression such as the non-coding RNA (ncRNA). Since the expression of these molecules is deranged in chronic inflammation and cancer, modulating their expression may strongly influence the cancer phenotype and outcomes. In addition, the recently acquired knowledge on the existence of intricate inter-kingdom communication networks, is opening new avenues for a deeper understanding of the intimate relationships linking diet to CRC. In this novel scenario, diet-modulated ncRNA may represent key actors in the interaction between plant and animal kingdoms, capable of influencing disease onset and outcome. In this review, we will summarize the studies demonstrating a link between bioactive food components, including food-derived, microbiota-processed, secondary metabolites, and host ncRNA. We will focus on microRNA, highlighting how this plant/animal inter-kingdom cross-talk may have an impact on CRC establishment and progression.

Original languageEnglish
Article number597
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Issue numberAPR
Publication statusPublished - Apr 5 2017


  • Bioactive food components
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Diet
  • Epigenetic mechanisms
  • Inter kingdom communication
  • MicroRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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