AIMS: The importance of ethanol oxidation by intestinal aerobes and facultative anaerobes under aerobic conditions in the pathogenesis of ethanol-related colorectal cancer has been proposed. However, the role of obligate anaerobes therein remains to be established, and it is still unclear which bacterial species, if any, are most important in the production and/or elimination of carcinogenic acetaldehyde under such conditions. This study was undertaken to address these issues.
METHODS: More than 500 bacterial strains were isolated from the faeces of Japanese alcoholics and phylogenetically characterized, and their aerobic ethanol metabolism was studied in vitro to examine their ability to accumulate acetaldehyde beyond the minimum mutagenic concentration (MMC, 50 µM).
RESULTS: Bacterial strains that were considered to potentially accumulate acetaldehyde beyond the MMC under aerobic conditions in the colon and rectum were identified and referred to as 'potential acetaldehyde accumulators' (PAAs). Ruminococcus, an obligate anaerobe, was identified as a genus that includes a large number of PAAs. Other obligate anaerobes were also found to include PAAs. The accumulation of acetaldehyde by PAAs colonizing the colorectal mucosal surface could be described, at least in part, as the response of PAAs to oxidative stress.
CONCLUSION: Ethanol oxidation by intestinal obligate anaerobes under aerobic conditions in the colon and rectum could also play an important role in the pathogenesis of ethanol-related colorectal cancer.