#IDIBELLseminars: Gut microbiome disturbance and mucosal barrier dysfunction in gastrointestinal cancer development

David Hughes

University College Dublin



Aula Blava (Edifici Jardí)


Microbiome disturbance (reduced diversity, increased growth/activity of pathogenic species) and metabolic action associated with gut barrier dysfunction and inflammation may influence development of gastrointestinal cancers. In multicentre prospective and patient cohorts of colorectal, hepatobiliary, and pancreatic cancers, we have been assessing these links by measuring serum immune responses to bacterial antigens, serum biomarkers of gut barrier integrity, and microbial abundance in tumour tissues. Additionally, we have recently applied the concept of Mendelian randomization (MR) analyses to examine the association of genetically predicted microbial profiles and metabolite concentrations with risk of hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. Together, our results support the hypothesis that gut barrier dysfunction and microbial translocation and metabolism may influence the development of these cancers (example PMIDs: 28372583, 26823475, 31481495, 29377173, 32332031, 33874856, 37338617, 37158960).

Hosted by Victor Moreno – Colorectal Cancer group


My current molecular epidemiology research examines how nutritional, genetic, metabolic, microbial and lifestyle factors may affect the initiation and progression of gastrointestinal cancers. Current projects are funded by the European Union (EU), Health Research Board (HRB) of Ireland, and the International HundredK+ Cohort Consortium (IHCC). I am a Governing Council Member of the International Society for Selenium Research, and a Working Group Member of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study and the IHCC. I obtained a BSc (hons) in Biochemistry at the University of Leeds, England, a PhD in Medical Genetics at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a Postgraduate diploma in Health Professions Education at the RCSI University of Medicine and Health Science, Dublin, Ireland. I have previously worked at Imperial College London, The Sanger Institute, Cambridge, WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (Lyon, France), Trinity College Dublin and the RCSI.

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