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Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2011 Jan;17(1):396-409. doi: 10.1002/ibd.21354.

The struggle within: microbial influences on colorectal cancer.

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Department of Medicine and the Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599-7080, USA.


Recently, an unprecedented effort has been directed at understanding the interplay between chronic inflammation and development of cancer, with the case of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-associated colorectal cancer at the forefront of this research endeavor. The last decade has been particularly fertile, with the discovery of numerous innovative paradigms linking various inflammatory, proliferative, and innate and adaptive immune signaling pathways to the development of colorectal cancer. Because of the preponderant role of the intestinal microbiota in the initiation and progression of IBD, recent efforts have been directed at understanding the relationship between bacteria and colorectal cancer. The microbiota and its collective genome, the microbiome, form a diverse and complex ecological community that profoundly impacts intestinal homeostasis and disease states. This review will discuss the differential influence of the microbiota on the development of IBD-associated colorectal cancer and highlight the role of innate immune sensor-dependent as well as -independent mechanisms in this pathology.

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