Open Access Study protocol

A study protocol to investigate the relationship between dietary fibre intake and fermentation, colon cell turnover, global protein acetylation and early carcinogenesis: the FACT study

Bernard M Corfe1*, Elizabeth A Williams1, Jonathan P Bury1, Stuart A Riley2, Lisa J Croucher14, Daphne YL Lai15 and Caroline A Evans3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oncology, University of Sheffield, The Medical School, Beech Hill Road, Sheffield, S10 2RX, UK

2 Department of Gastroenterology, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield, UK

3 Department of Chemical and Process Engineering, University of Sheffield, Mappin St, Sheffield, S1 3JD, UK

4 Arthritis Research Campaign, St Mary's Gate, Chesterfield, S41 7TD, UK

5 Department of Geography, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2TN, UK

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BMC Cancer 2009, 9:332  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-332

Published: 18 September 2009



A number of studies, notably EPIC, have shown a descrease in colorectal cancer risk associated with increased fibre consumption. Whilst the underlying mechanisms are likely to be multifactorial, production of the short-chain fatty-acid butyrate fro butyratye is frequently cited as a major potential contributor to the effect. Butyrate inhibits histone deacetylases, which work on a wide range of proteins over and above histones. We therefore hypothesized that alterations in the acetylated proteome may be associated with a cancer risk phenotype in the colorectal mucosa, and that such alterations are candidate biomarkers for effectiveness of fibre interventions in cancer prevention.

Methods an design

There are two principal arms to this study: (i) a cross-sectional study (FACT OBS) of 90 subjects recruited from gastroenterology clinics and; (ii) an intervention trial in 40 subjects with an 8 week high fibre intervention. In both studies the principal goal is to investigate a link between fibre intake, SCFA production and global protein acetylation. The primary measure is level of faecal butyrate, which it is hoped will be elevated by moving subjects to a high fibre diet. Fibre intakes will be estimated in the cross-sectional group using the EPIC Food Frequency Questionnaire. Subsidiary measures of the effect of butyrate on colon mucosal function and pre-cancerous phenotype will include measures of apoptosis, apoptotic regulators cell cycle and cell division.


This study will provide a new level of mechanistic data on alterations in the functional proteome in response to the colon microenvironment which may underwrite the observed cancer preventive effect of fibre. The study may yield novel candidate biomarkers of fibre fermentation and colon mucosal function.

Trial Registration

Trial Registration Number: ISRCTN90852168