Colon Cancer Prevention with Walnuts: A Longitudinal Study in Mice from the Perspective of a Gut Enterotype-like Cluster.

Document Type


Publication Date




JAX Source

Cancer Prev Res (Phila) 2020 Jan; 13(1):15-24.






There is limited understanding of how walnut consumption inhibits the development of colorectal cancer. A possible mechanism may involve alterations to the gut microbiota. In this study, the effects of walnut on gut microbiota were tested in a mouse tumor bioassay using the colonotropic carcinogen, azoxymethane (AOM) added to the total Western diet (TWD). 16S rRNA pyrosequencing identified three enterotype-like clusters (E1, E2, and E3) in this murine model. E1, E2, and E3 are associated with AOM exposure, walnut consumption, and TWD diet, respectively. E2 and E3 showed distinct taxonomic and functional characteristics, while E1 represented an intermediate state. At the family level, E1 and E3 were both enriched with Bacteroidaceae, but driven by two different operational taxonomic units (OTU; OTU-2 for E1, OTU-4 for E3). E2 was overrepresented with Porphyromonadaceae and Lachnospiraceae, with OTU-3 (family Porphyromonadaceae) as the "driver" OTU for this cluster. Functionally, E3 is overrepresented with genes of glycan biosynthesis and metabolism, xenobiotic metabolism, and lipid metabolism. E2 is enriched with genes associated with cell motility, replication and repair, and amino acid metabolism. Longitudinally, E2 represents the gut microbial status of early life in these mice. In comparison with E1 and E3, E2 is associated with a moderate lower tumor burden (P = 0.12). Our results suggest that walnuts may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer within a Western diet by altering the gut microbiota. Our findings provide further evidence that colorectal cancer risk is potentially modifiable by diet via alterations to the microbiota.