Gut microbiota has been implicated in the etiopathogenesis of colorectal cancer. The development of colorectal cancer is a multistep process by which healthy epithelium slowly develops into preneoplastic lesions, which in turn progress into malignant carcinomas over time. In particular, sporadic colorectal cancers can arise from adenomas (about 85% of cases) or serrated polyps through the "adenoma-carcinoma" or the "serrated polyp-carcinoma" sequences, respectively. In this study, we performed 16 S rRNA gene sequencing of bacterial DNA extracted from faecal samples to compare the microbiota of healthy subjects and patients with different preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions. We identified putative microbial biomarkers associated with stage-specific progression of colorectal cancer. In particular, bacteria belonging to the Firmicutes and Actinobacteria phyla, as well as members of the Lachnospiraceae family, proved to be specific of the faecal microbiota of patients with preneoplastic lesions, including adenomas and hyperplastic polyps. On the other hand, two families of the Proteobacteria phylum, Alcaligeneaceae and Enterobacteriaceae, with Sutterella and Escherichia/Shigella being the most representative genera, appeared to be associated with malignancy. These findings, once confirmed on larger cohorts of patients, can represent an important step towards the development of more effective diagnostic strategies.
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