Microbial dysbiosis and polyamine metabolism as predictive markers for early detection of pancreatic cancer

Roberto Mendez, Kousik Kesh, Nivedita Arora, Leá Di Martino, Florencia McAllister, Nipun Merchant, Sulagna Banerjee, Santanu Banerjee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The lack of tools for early detection of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is directly correlated with the abysmal survival rates in patients. In addition to several potential detection tools under active investigation, we tested the gut microbiome and its metabolic complement as one of the earliest detection tools that could be useful in patients at high risk for PDAC. We used a combination of 16s rRNA pyrosequencing and whole-genome sequencing of gut fecal microbiota in a genetically engineered PDAC murine model (KRASG12DTP53R172HPdxCre or KPC). Metabolic reconstruction of microbiome was done using the HUMAnN2 pipeline. Serum polyamine levels were measured from murine and patient samples using chromogenic assay. Our results showed a Proteobacterial and Firmicutes dominance in gut microbiota in early stages of PDAC development. Upon in silico reconstruction of active metabolic pathways within the altered microbial flora, polyamine and nucleotide biosynthetic pathways were significantly elevated. These metabolic products are known to be actively assimilated by the host and eventually utilized by rapidly dividing cells for proliferation validating their importance in the context of tumorigenesis. In KPC mice, as well as PDAC patients, we show significantly elevated serum polyamine concentrations. Therefore, at the early stages of tumorigenesis, there is a strong correlation between microbial changes and release of metabolites that foster host tumorigenesis, thereby fulfilling the ‘vicious cycle hypothesis’ of the role of microbiome in health and disease states. Our results provide a potential, precise, noninvasive tool for early detection of PDAC, which may result in improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-570
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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