Midgut neuroendocrine tumor patients have a depleted gut microbiome with a discriminative signature

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When compared to other types of cancer, the prevalence of midgut neuroendocrine tumors (NET) has disproportionally increased over the past decades. To date, there has been very little progress in discovering (epi)genetic drivers and treatment options for these tumors. Recent microbiome research has revealed that enteroendocrine cells communicate with the intestinal microbiome and has provided novel treatment targets for various other cancer types. Hence, our aim was to analyze the role of the gut microbiome in midgut NET patients. 


Fecal samples, prospectively collected from patients and control subjects, were analyzed with next generation 16S sequencing. Patients with neuroendocrine carcinomas and recent antibiotics use were excluded. Relevant variables were extracted from questionnaires and electronic health records. Microbial composition was compared between patients and controls as well as between groups within the patient cohort. 


87 midgut NET patients and 95 controls were included. Midgut NET patients had a less rich and diverse gut microbiome than controls (p < 0.001). Moreover, we identified 31 differentially abundant species and a gut microbial signature consisting of 17 species that was predictive of midgut NET presence with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.863. Gut microbial composition was not directly associated with the presence of the carcinoid syndrome, tumor grade or multifocality. Nonetheless, we did observe a potential link between microbial diversity and the presence of carcinoid syndrome symptoms within the subset of patients with elevated 5-hydroxyindolacetic acid levels. 


Midgut NET patients have an altered gut microbiome which suggests a role in NET development and could provide novel targets for microbiome-based diagnostics and therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number113472
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

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Copyright © 2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


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