Mucus-invasive bacterial biofilms are identified on the colon mucosa of approximately 50% of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients and approximately 13% of healthy subjects. Here, we test the hypothesis that human colon biofilms comprise microbial communities that are carcinogenic in CRC mouse models. Homogenates of human biofilm-positive colon mucosa were prepared from tumor patients (tumor and paired normal tissues from surgical resections) or biofilm-positive biopsies from healthy individuals undergoing screening colonoscopy; homogenates of biofilm-negative colon biopsies from healthy individuals undergoing screening colonoscopy served as controls. After 12 weeks, biofilm-positive, but not biofilm-negative, human colon mucosal homogenates induced colon tumor formation in 3 mouse colon tumor models (germ-free ApcMinΔ850/+;Il10–/– or ApcMinΔ850/+ and specific pathogen–free ApcMinΔ716/+ mice). Remarkably, biofilm-positive communities from healthy colonoscopy biopsies induced colon inflammation and tumors similarly to biofilm-positive tumor tissues. By 1 week, biofilm-positive human tumor homogenates, but not healthy biopsies, displayed consistent bacterial mucus invasion and biofilm formation in mouse colons. 16S rRNA gene sequencing and RNA-Seq analyses identified compositional and functional microbiota differences between mice colonized with biofilm-positive and biofilm-negative communities. These results suggest human colon mucosal biofilms, whether from tumor hosts or healthy individuals undergoing screening colonoscopy, are carcinogenic in murine models of CRC.
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