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A cross-sectional study on gut microbiota in prostate cancer patients with prostatectomy or androgen deprivation therapy




Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), either by medical or surgical castration, is the backbone for standard treatment of locally advanced or metastatic prostate cancer, yet it is also associated with various metabolic and cardiovascular complications. Recent evidence have shown that obesity, insulin resistance, or metabolic disturbances can be associated with changes in the gut microbiome, while animal studies also show that castration is associated with changes in the gut microbiome. This study aims to investigate whether the fecal microbiota in prostate cancer patients who had undergone prostatectomy or ADT are different, and explore changes in phylogeny and pathways that may lead to side effects from ADT.


A total of 86 prostate cancer patients (56 patients on ADT and 30 patients with prostatectomy) were recruited. The fecal microbiota was analyzed by the 16S rRNA gene for alpha- and beta-diversities by QIIME2, as well as the predicted metabolic pathways by Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States 2.


The alpha-diversity was significantly lower in the ADT group. The beta-diversity was significantly different between the groups, in which Ruminococcus gnavus and Bacteroides spp were having higher relative abundance in the ADT group, whereas Lachnospira and Roseburia were reduced. The Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes ratio is noted to be lower in the ADT group as well. The functional pathway prediction showed that the biosynthesis of lipopolysaccharide (endotoxin) and propanoate was enriched in the ADT as well as the energy cycle pathways. This study is limited by the cross-sectional design and the clinical heterogeneity.


There is a significant difference in gut microbiome between prostate cancer patients on ADT and prostatectomy. We theorize that this difference may contribute to the development of metabolic complications from ADT. Further longitudinal studies are awaited.

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Fig. 1: The alpha- and beta-diversity between ADT and RRP groups.
Fig. 2: Differentially enriched microbiota between ADT and RRP groups.
Fig. 3: LEfSe analyses between ADT and RRP groups.
Fig. 4: The Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes (F/B ratio).
Fig. 5: Functional pathway predictions using PICRUSt2.


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Correspondence to Chi-Fai Ng.

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Li, J.K.M., Wang, L.L., Wong, C.Y.P. et al. A cross-sectional study on gut microbiota in prostate cancer patients with prostatectomy or androgen deprivation therapy. Prostate Cancer Prostatic Dis 24, 1063–1072 (2021).

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