A recent review of available data on fecal microbiota transplantation has reported that it is a highly effective procedure to treat recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an emerging procedure that involves transferring fecal matter from a healthy donor into the digestive tract of a patient through an enema or colonoscopy to treat Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). CDI is a common form of bacterial, hospital-acquired infection with life-threatening symptoms such as severe diarrhea and sepsis. Patients using high doses of antibiotics for a long time are at a high risk of contracting CDI because antibiotics kill off good bacteria in the gut, which allows C. difficile to grow. Although there are drugs that specifically treat CDI, the infection often returns and FMT is an alternative treatment to prevent recurrence. In FMT, the donor stool contains microbes that could help replenish the patient’s good gut bacteria.
Previous clinical trials have shown that FMT is highly effective in eradicating CDI. A recent review has examined available data from previous studies to determine the long-term efficacy and safety of FMT. Analysis of results from 18 studies with 611 patients showed that FMT has a cure rate of 91.2%. CDI recurrence rate of 5.5% was reported within 90 days after FMT. Patients more than 65 years old had a slightly lower cure rate compared to younger subjects. FMT was found to be effective regardless of whether the stool donor was related to the patient or not. Most of the adverse effects to FMT were short-lived and serious reactions were related to patients with autoimmune diseases.
The paper concluded that based on available evidence, FMT is highly effective and safe. The development of a standardized procedure for FMT, such as screening of donors and route of administration, are needed in future studies.
Li YT, Cai HF, Wang ZH, Xu J, Fang JY. Systematic review with meta-analysis: long-term outcomes of faecal microbiota transplantation for Clostridium difficile infection. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Feb; 43(4): 445-57.
Written by Ana Victoria Pilar, PhD