A systematic review of microbial markers for risk prediction of colorectal neoplasia

Lili Yu, Gang Zhao, Lijuan Wang, Xuan Zhou, Jing Sun, Xinxuan Li, Yingshuang Zhu, Yazhou He, Kleovoulos Kofonikolas, Debby Bogaert, Malcolm Dunlop, Yimin Zhu, Evropi Theodoratou, Xue Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Substantial evidence indicates that dysbiosis of the gut microbial community is associated with colorectal neoplasia. This review aims to systematically summarise the microbial markers associated with colorectal neoplasia and to assess their predictive performance.

METHODS: A comprehensive literature search of MEDLINE and EMBASE databases was performed to identify eligible studies. Observational studies exploring the associations between microbial biomarkers and colorectal neoplasia were included. We also included prediction studies that constructed models using microbial markers to predict CRC and adenomas. Risk of bias for included observational and prediction studies was assessed.

RESULTS: Forty-five studies were included to assess the associations between microbial markers and colorectal neoplasia. Nine faecal microbiotas (i.e., Fusobacterium, Enterococcus, Porphyromonas, Salmonella, Pseudomonas, Peptostreptococcus, Actinomyces, Bifidobacterium and Roseburia), two oral pathogens (i.e., Treponema denticola and Prevotella intermedia) and serum antibody levels response to Streptococcus gallolyticus subspecies gallolyticus were found to be consistently associated with colorectal neoplasia. Thirty studies reported prediction models using microbial markers, and 83.3% of these models had acceptable-to-good discrimination (AUROC > 0.75). The results of predictive performance were promising, but most of the studies were limited to small number of cases (range: 9-485 cases) and lack of independent external validation (76.7%).

CONCLUSIONS: This review provides insight into the evidence supporting the association between different types of microbial species and their predictive value for colorectal neoplasia. Prediction models developed from case-control studies require further external validation in high-quality prospective studies. Further studies should assess the feasibility and impact of incorporating microbial biomarkers in CRC screening programme.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1318-1328
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number9
Early online date15 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Mar 2022


  • Adenoma
  • Biomarkers
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Dysbiosis
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies


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