Saturday 13 January 2024

Manipulation of gut microbiota with flaxseed could reduce breast cancer risk


A study demonstrates that the human gut microbiome may be a factor in breast health. In the study, flaxseed components called lignans were shown to influence the relationship between gut microorganisms and the expression of mammary gland microRNAs (miRNAs).

miRNAs are short, noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by targeting the 3' untranslated region of target mRNAs. A subset of these miRNAs regulates the genes involved in breast cancer, including genes that control cell proliferation and migration. 

Monitoring science

The gastrointestinal microbiota appears to play an important role in modifying many components of our diet to impact human health. The researchers studied the effects of flaxseed lignans on the microbiota of young female mice.

One flaxseed oil lignan requires microbial processing to release bioactive metabolites, small-molecule chemicals produced during metabolism that influence physiology and disease -- in this case, having antitumor effects.

Hence, the investigators found correlations between diets enriched in flaxseed, caecal microbiota composition, and miRNA profiles in the mammary gland that regulate many pathways, including those involved in cancer development.

Lignans, fibre-associated compounds found in many foods and particularly plentiful in flaxseed, are associated with reduced breast cancer mortality in postmenopausal women.

The researchers found that lignan components generate specific miRNA responses in the mammary gland.

The preliminary results support further research into the role that the microbiota plays in dietary approaches to reduce risk factors associated with disease.


Diana Wu, Lilian U. Thompson, Elena M. Comelli. Cecal microbiota and mammary gland microRNA signatures are related and modifiable by dietary flaxseed with implications for breast cancer risk. Microbiology Spectrum, 2023; DOI: 10.1128/spectrum.02290-23

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources

Special offers