Fecal transplants show promise for those who suffer from recurring C. difficile infections

For patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have been taking antibiotics for a long period of time, C. difficile infection is a common complication. Recurring C. difficile infections may be alleviated by an intestinal transplant, according to a new study from the University of Virginia School of Medicine. The transplantation of healthy feces into patients with C. difficile promotes the growth of healthy gut bacteria and eases the symptoms of infections.

The Immune – Gut Connection

Certain combinations of microorganisms in the gut seem to enhance the overall gut microbiome quicker than others. A particular immune system may be the cause of these differences, researchers say. In order to avoid C. difficile re-infections, it is critical to determine what immunological responses vary in patients who have had fecal transplants.

C. difficile
Clostridium difficile bacteria, 3D illustration. Spore-forming bacteria that cause pseudomembraneous colitis and are associated with nosocomial antibiotic resistance. (© Kateryna_Kon – stock.adobe.com)

“Even though we know that fecal microbiota transplants can treat recurrent C. difficile infection, we don’t know exactly why some microbe combinations work better than others or why the same combinations can have different effects on different people. We believe that this variability stems from each person’s immune system being unique. That is why it is important for us to find out what immune markers change in patients where fecal microbiota transplantation was successful in preventing C. difficile re-infections,” says researcher Ning-Jiun “Ninj” Jan, in a statement. Jan is a researcher at UVA’s Division of Infectious Disease and International Health. 

“Finding that a specific immune signaling molecule, IL-25, was increased in successful fecal microbiota transplantations indicated that maybe IL-25 can be used as an adjunctive therapy for treating C. difficile infection,” Jan adds. Jan works as a research scientist in the UVA lab of Chelsea Marie, Ph.D. 

Marie, Jan, and their colleagues studied blood and colon tissue samples taken from C. difficile patients at the time of their transplants and again 60 days later in order to better understand the effects of fecal transplants on those patients.

IL-25, an essential immune system agent, was discovered to be raised in the patients’ colons after transplantation. IL-25 is a cytokine that triggers our immune system’s reaction to outside invaders. Because of this, tissue inflammation decreased as IL-25 escalated. The researchers discovered that the transplants also boosted the variety of bacteria that normally inhabit our colons. Previous studies have shown the importance of a diverse set of microbiota to maintain overall health. 

Targeted Treatments

The modifications induced by fecal transplants, including favorable alterations in the activation of particular genes, improve an individual’s immune system’s capacity to combat recurrent C. difficile infections, according to the researchers. Doctors may be able to boost the effects of fecal transplants by employing additional techniques to stimulate IL-25 in patients with recurrent C. difficile.

“In the future, it may be possible to combine fecal microbiota transplants with cytokine-based therapies to increase the success rate of treatment,” Jan adds. “There is a lot of interplay between our immune system and our intestinal microbes, and it’s exciting that understanding their relationship is helping us find new therapies.”This study is published in mSphere.

12 thoughts on “Fecal transplants show promise for those who suffer from recurring C. difficile infections”

  1. Are you saying that overuse of antibiotics is causing a problem? If you take some fecal matter from an infant and put it in a capsule they swallow it down, you can cure the problem?

  2. This is not new for many of us.
    Most people have been receiving fecal transplants from their workplace and bosses for most of their life.
    Some also get a double dose, a tasty side order from their spouses.

  3. They tell you eat bugs, eat each other, now eat shhht. This is a joke. This is what the self-annointed, arrogant, and completely bubble-enclosed “elites” think of you. They laugh while you eat shhht? There are worse things than starving to death, and eating shhht for other people’s amusement is one of them. But you don’t have to.
    them. Outsmart them. Say no. Eat yogurt, kefir, saurekraut, kimchi, natto, other fermented foods, or ferment your own. Easy recipes all over YouTube. Besides solving the exact problem these weirdos pretend to be solving (gut flora repair), fermented foods are delicious and inexpensive ways to preserve food for the upcoming food crash they’re also planning.

  4. How do I get accepted into a trial study for this? The gut is a brain and the brain is a brain. When antibiotics are used it breaks the wire between the two. So the connection needs to be restored. IBS. Severe IBS has me at a desperate point.

  5. Didn’t a researcher from UChicago or something already perform an experiment on himself a long time ago that suggested fecal transplants can have immense benefits? And the medical community lambasted him for it?

  6. They told me I was the first person to take the fecal transplant in capsule form. I was suffering from Cdiff and indeterminate colitis for three years before taking it. About two weeks after taking the fecal capsules I developed Fournier gangrene and was placed in the ICU. I had several surgeries, one of which removed my large colon. The doctors tested the colon after and determined that the Cdiff was 100 percent gone, too late, however, for me. Keep this in mind, that I was suffering from Cdiff for three years, having tried every antibiotic known to man, including the ones that were not FDA approved yet, where I had to get special permission to get it. Nothing worked until the Stool Transplant that I got at Mass General hospital in Boston. As for the Fourniers Gangrene, no one really knows for sure how I got that nasty infection, but some said that perhaps they didn’t screen the stole well, while others said that it began with a scratch down there mixed with the bacteria. But where did it originate from? The only outside I had been was in my house, bedridden in my room for three years. Then I went to Boston and had someone else’s fecal matter placed inside my colon. So I really don’t know. I would like to find out, but I guess I never will. I just want all the doctors to know that stole transplants DO WORK but you need to really screen for every disease in the world so no one has to go through the hell that I went through. SCREEN THE STOLE!!! And thank you to all the doctors from Mass General for trying to help me.

  7. This is not new, my relative had this procedure at least two years ago and it was successful. She had suffered from C Diff for quite awhile, they just kept piling on antibiotics and it would disappear for awhile and then it would come roaring back. It was not a pill which would have been nice but involved a donor. It was paid for out of pocket, insurance would not cover it. I did read about a study that used a pill with autistic children, not sure how large the study was but they reported very positive results.


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