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We previously demonstrated that flavonoid metabolites inhibit cancer cell proliferation through both CDK-dependent and -independent mechanisms. The existing evidence suggests that gut microbiota is capable of flavonoid biotransformation to generate bioactive metabolites including 2,4,6-trihydroxybenzoic acid (2,4,6-THBA), 3,4-dihydroxybenzoic acid (3,4-DHBA), 3,4,5-trihyroxybenzoic acid (3,4,5-THBA) and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC). In this study, we screened 94 human gut bacterial species for their ability to biotransform flavonoid quercetin into different metabolites. We demonstrated that five of these species were able to degrade quercetin including Bacillus glycinifermentans, Flavonifractor plautii, Bacteroides eggerthii, Olsenella scatoligenes and Eubacterium eligens. Additional studies showed that B. glycinifermentans could generate 2,4,6-THBA and 3,4-DHBA from quercetin while F. plautii generates DOPAC. In addition to the differences in the metabolites produced, we also observed that the kinetics of quercetin degradation was different between B. glycinifermentans and F. plautii, suggesting that the pathways of degradation are likely different between these strains. Similar to the antiproliferative effects of 2,4,6-THBA and 3,4-DHBA demonstrated previously, DOPAC also inhibited colony formation ex vivo in the HCT-116 colon cancer cell line. Consistent with this, the bacterial culture supernatant of F. plautii also inhibited colony formation in this cell line. Thus, as F. plautii and B. glycinifermentans generate metabolites possessing antiproliferative activity, we suggest that these strains have the potential to be developed into probiotics to improve human gut health.


Ranjini Sankaranarayanan, Prabhjot Kaur Sekhon, Achuthan Ambat, Julia Nelson, Davis Jose, G Jayarama Bhat, Joy Scaria. Screening of Human Gut Bacterial Culture Collection Identifies Species That Biotransform Quercetin into Metabolites with Anticancer Properties. International journal of molecular sciences. 2021 Jun 30;22(13)

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PMID: 34208885

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