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Radiother Oncol. 2018 Oct;129(1):44-51. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2018.04.023. Epub 2018 May 4.

Distinct shifts in the oral microbiota are associated with the progression and aggravation of mucositis during radiotherapy.

Author information

1
Department of Stomatology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, China. Electronic address: houjin@smu.edu.cn.
2
State Key Laboratory of Organ Failure Research, Division of Laboratory Medicine, Zhujiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, China; Department of Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Southern Medical University, China.
3
State Key Laboratory of Organ Failure Research, Division of Laboratory Medicine, Zhujiang Hospital, Southern Medical University, China. Electronic address: biodegradation@gmail.com.
4
Department of Stomatology, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, China. Electronic address: yxj_den@163.com.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:

Oral mucositis remains one of the most common complications of radiation therapy for patients with head and neck cancer. This study aimed to investigate the dynamic shifts in the oral mucosal microbiota and their association with the progression and aggravation of mucositis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) undergoing radiotherapy.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

In this study, oropharyngeal mucosa of patients were examined regularly, and sampled longitudinally in eight stages of their radiation treatment program: before radiation, and then after 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, and 70 Gy. Based on 16S rRNA gene sequencing and bioinformatics analysis, the characteristics of dynamic variations in oral microbiota during their treatment were investigated.

RESULTS:

The results showed that the mucosal bacterial alpha diversity (richness and evenness) did not change significantly during the entire course of these patient treatments. Notwithstanding 20 genera were found to be significantly positively associated with their radiation dose, whereas 10 genera were negatively associated with it. Notably, two bacterial co-abundance groups (CAG 1 and 2) were identified and the majority of bacteria clustered within the CAG 2 were indeed periodontal disease-associated genera. Most strikingly, many of them, especially Prevotella, Fusobacterium, Treponema and Porphyromonas, showed obvious dynamic synchronous variations in their abundances throughout the course of radiation therapy, where their peaks frequently coincided with the onset of severe mucositis.

CONCLUSION:

Our results suggest that dysbiosis of oral mucosal microbiota may contribute to exacerbating the severity of mucositis in patients undergoing radiotherapy for nasopharyngeal carcinoma.

KEYWORDS:

16S rRNA gene sequencing; Nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC); Necrotizing ulcerative gingivostomatitis (NG); Oral microbiota; Periopathogens; Radiotherapy

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