Clostridium difficile: Colonization vs. Symptomatic Infection

A recent study provides another way to distinguish individuals colonized with Clostridium difficile from those with symptomatic infection (J Pediatr 2013; 163: 1697-704).

Methods: This study comprised two designs. “The first is a case-control study comparing children with a positive C difficile test (cases), children with diarrhea but no C difficile (symptomatic controls), and asymptomatic controls, some of whom were colonized with C difficile.  The second is a prospective-cohort study where we followed our cases for the duration of their illness.”

Results: Fecal cytokines (CXCL-5 and IL-8 mRNA) were elevated in samples from symptomatic children, whether cases or controls.

Bottomline: Inflammatory cytokines can help distinguish C difficile colonization from disease.  Of course, this may have limited utility in patients with underlying inflammatory bowel disease.

Recent posts regarding C difficile: