Gut Microbial Dysbiosis Differs in Two Distinct Cachectic Tumor-Bearing Models Consuming the Same Diet

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The impact of cancer cachexia on the colonic microbiota is poorly characterized. This study assessed the effect of two cachectic-producing tumor types on the gut microbiota to determine if a similar dysbiosis could be found. In addition, it was determined if a diet containing an immunonutrient-rich food (walnuts) known to promote the growth of probiotic bacteria in the colon could alter the dysbiosis and slow cachexia. Male Fisher 344 rats were randomly assigned to a semi-purified diet with or without walnuts. Then, within each diet group, rats were further assigned randomly to a treatment group: tumor-bearing ad libitum fed (TB), non-tumor-bearing ad libitum fed (NTB-AL), and non-tumor-bearing group pair-fed to the TB (NTB-PF). The TB group was implanted either with the Ward colon carcinoma or MCA-induced sarcoma, both transplantable tumor lines. Fecal samples were collected after the development of cachexia, and bacteria species were identified using 16S rRNA gene analysis. Both TB groups developed cachexia but had a differently altered gut microbiome. Beta diversity was unaffected by treatment (NTB-AL, TB, and NTB-PF) regardless of tumor type but was affected by diet. Also, diet consistently changed the relative abundance of several bacteria taxa, while treatment and tumor type did not. The control diet increased the abundance of A. Anaeroplasma, while the walnut diet increased the genus Ruminococcus. There were no common fecal bacterial changes characteristic of cachexia found. Diet consistently changed the gut microbiota, but these changes were insufficient to slow the progression of cachexia, suggesting cancer cachexia is more complex than a few gut microbiota shifts.

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