Modelling the role of microbial p-cresol in colorectal genotoxicity

Eiman Abdulla Al Hinai, Piyarach Kullamethee, Ian R. Rowland, Jonathan Swann, Gemma E. Walton, Daniel M. Commane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Background: A greater understanding of mechanisms explaining the interactions between diet and the gut microbiota in colorectal cancer is desirable. Genotoxic microbial metabolites present in the colon may be implicated in carcinogenesis and potentially influenced by diet.

Aims: We hypothesised that microbial p-cresol is a colonic genotoxin and set out to model potential exposures in the colon and the effects of these exposures on colonic cells.

Methods: Batch culture fermentations with human faecal inoculate were used to determine the synthesis of p-cresol and other metabolites in response to various substrates. The fermentation supernatants were evaluated for genotoxicity and the independent effects of p-cresol on colonic cells were studied in vitro.

Results: In batch culture fermentation, supplementary protein increased the synthesis of phenols, indoles and p-cresol, whereas supplementary fructoligosaccharide (FOS) increased the synthesis of short chain fatty acids. The p-cresol was the greatest predictor of genotoxicity against colonocytes in the fermentation supernatants. Spiking fermentation supernatants with exogenous p-cresol further increased DNA damage, and independently p-cresol induced DNA damage in a dose-dependent manner against HT29 and Caco-2 cells and influenced cell cycle kinetics.

Conclusions: In the colon p-cresol may reach physiologically significant concentrations which contribute to genotoxic exposures in the intestinal lumen, p-cresol production may be attenuated by substrate, and therefore diet, making it a potential modifiable biomarker of genotoxicity in the colon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)398-411
Number of pages14
JournalGut Microbes
Issue number3
Early online date25 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2019


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