Liver cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a primary liver cancer that results from chronic hepatitis caused by multiple predisposing factors such as viral infection, alcohol consumption, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Accumulating studies have indicated that dysfunction of the gut epithelial barrier and hepatic translocation of gut microbes may be implicated in the pathogenesis of HCC. However, the translocated bacteria in HCC patients remains unclear. Here, we characterised tumour-associated microbiota in patients with liver cancer and focused on HCC. We observed that the number of amplicon sequence variants in tumour-associated microbiota was significantly higher compared with that in non-tumour regions of the liver. The tumour-associated microbiota consisted of Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria as the dominant phyla. We identified an unclassified genus that belonged to the Bacteroides, Romboutsia, uncultured bacterium of Lachnospiraceae as a signature taxon for primary liver cancer. Additionally, we identified Ruminococcus gnavus as a signature taxon for HCC patients infected with hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C viruses. This study suggests that tumour microbiota may contribute to the pathology of HCC.
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