Breast Cancer Survivors and Healthy Women: Could Gut Microbiota Make a Difference?—“BiotaCancerSurvivors”: A Case-Control Study

Telma Caleça, Pedro Ribeiro, Marina Vitorino, Maria Menezes, Mafalda Sampaio-Alves, Ana Duarte Mendes, Rodrigo Vicente, Ida Negreiros, Ana Faria, Diogo Alpuim Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


In this first analysis, samples from 23 BC survivors (group 1) and 291 healthy female controls (group 2) were characterised through the V3 and V4 regions that encode the “16S rRNA” gene of each bacteria. The samples were sequenced by next-generation sequencing (NGS), and the taxonomy was identified by resorting to Kraken2 and improved with Bracken, using a curated database called ‘GutHealth_DB’. The α and β-diversity analyses were used to determine the richness and evenness of the gut microbiota. A non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test was applied to assess differential abundance between both groups. The Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes (F/B) ratio was calculated using a Kruskal-Wallis chi-squared test. The α-diversity was significantly higher in group 1 (p = 0.28 × 10−12 for the Chao index and p = 1.64 × 10−12 for the ACE index). The Shannon index, a marker of richness and evenness, was not statistically different between the two groups (p = 0.72). The microbiota composition was different between the two groups: a null hypothesis was rejected for PERMANOVA (p = 9.99 × 10−5) and Anosim (p = 0.04) and was not rejected for β-dispersion (p = 0.158), using Unifrac weighted distance. The relative abundance of 14 phyla, 29 classes, 25 orders, 64 families, 116 genera, and 74 species differed significantly between both groups. The F/B ratio was significantly lower in group 1 than in group 2, p < 0.001. Our study allowed us to observe significant taxonomic disparities in the two groups by testing the differences between BC survivors and healthy controls. Additional studies are needed to clarify the involved mechanisms and explore the relationship between microbiota and BC survivorship.

Original languageEnglish
Article number594
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • breast cancer
  • cancer
  • case-control study
  • microbiome
  • microbiota
  • survivors
  • survivorship


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