Clinical Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019. In press: Efficacy of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Clostridium difficile Infection in Children Thanks to Ben Gold for this reference.
Background & Aims
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is commonly used to treat Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). CDI is an increasing cause of diarrheal illness in pediatric patients, but the effects of FMT have not been well studied in children. We performed a multi-center retrospective cohort study of pediatric and young adult patients to evaluate the efficacy, safety, and factors associated with a successful FMT for the treatment of CDI.
We performed a retrospective study of 372 patients, 11 months to 23 years old, who underwent FMTs at 18 pediatric centers, from February 1, 2004 to February 28, 2017; 2-month outcome data were available from 335 patients. Successful FMT was defined as no recurrence of CDI in the 2 months following FMT. We performed stepwise logistic regression to identify factors associated with successful FMT.
Of 335 patients who underwent FMT and were followed for 2 months or more, 271 (81%) had a successful outcome following a single FMT and 86.6% had a successful outcome following a first or repeated FMT. Patients who received FMT with fresh donor stool (odds ratio [OR], 2.66; 95% CI, 1.39–5.08), underwent FMT via colonoscopy (OR, 2.41; 95% CI, 1.26–4.61), did not have a feeding tube (OR, 2.08; 95% CI, 1.05–4.11), or had 1 less episode of CDI before FMT (OR, 1.20; 95% CI, 1.04–1.39) had increased odds for successful FMT. Seventeen patients (4.7%) had a severe adverse event during the 3-month follow-up period, including 10 hospitalizations.
Based on the findings from a large multi-center retrospective cohort, FMT is effective and safe for the treatment of CDI in children and young adults. Further studies are required to optimize the timing and method of FMT for pediatric patients—factors associated with success differ from those of adult patients.
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Park Guell, Barcelona
W El-Matary et al. J Pediatr 2019; 206: 20-5. This study from Manitoba using electronic database found that the incidence rate of C difficile was stable from 2005-2015, with an overall rate of 7.8 per 100,000 person-years. Children with Hirschsprung’s and inflammatory bowel disease had increased prevalence rates.
JL O’Loughlin et al. J Pediatr 2019; 206: 142-7. Using data from two longitudinal studies in Montreal (Cannabis is legal for adults in Canada since 2018), the authors examined the rate of cannabis initiation starting in 6th grade through 11th grade. Key finding was that cannabis use was 1.8 time more likely among children whose parents used cannabis. Overall, cannabis use increased from 3.1% in grade 6 to 25.7% in grade 11.
What is erythromelagia? This term was noted in the title of a recent report (J Pediatr 2019; 206: 217-24) and refers to bilateral episodic pain and redness that occurs in feet, hands and occasionally the ears. In some case, symptoms progress proximally to involve the legs, arms, and rarely the face.
NY Times: Drug Companies and Doctors Battle Over the Future of Fecal Transplants
This article highlights a concern that pharmaceutical companies may persuade the FDA to regulate fecal transplants similar to medications. This will exponentially increase the cost and limit the access to beneficial human excrement. Thanks to one of my sons for pointing out this commentary to me.
As pharmaceutical companies seek to profit from the curative wonders of human feces, doctors worry about new regulations, higher prices and patients attempting DIY cures…
The clash is over the future of fecal microbiota transplants, or F.M.T., a revolutionary treatment that has proved remarkably effective in treating Clostridioides difficile, a debilitating bacterial infection that strikes 500,000 Americans a year and kills 30,000…
At the heart of the controversy is a question of classification: Are the fecal microbiota that cure C. diff a drug, or are they more akin to organs, tissues and blood products that are transferred from the healthy to treat the sick? The answer will determine how the Food and Drug Administration regulates the procedure, how much it costs and who gets to profit…
Human feces, it turns out, are a potential gold mine, for both medical researchers and drug makers…
Inspired by the success of fecal transplants for C. diff, scientists are racing to develop similar treatments for an array of ailments and disorders, among them obesity, autism, ulcerative colitis, and Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases…
For now, most of the material used in fecal transplants comes from OpenBiome, the public stool bank in Cambridge …The material comes from donors who earn $40 a pop and must pass intensive screenings and regular medical checkups. “It’s harder to become a stool donor than it is to get into M.I.T.,” said Carolyn Edelstein, who runs the organization…The F.D.A. has ramped up oversight of OpenBiome’s production, leading to more rigorous testing and higher prices, which will double to $1,600 this month.
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From NY Times Twitter Feed
A recent position paper (ZH Davidovics et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 130-43) from NASPGHAN/ESPGHAN on Fecal Microbioata Transplantation (FMT) for Recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) provides a pretty good review. Though, I think a summary table of recommendations would have made this publication much more helpful.
Here is a full-text link: Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Recurrent Clostridium difficile Infection and Other Conditions in Children: A Joint Position Paper
A couple key points/excerpts:
In general, we concur with current adult guidelines when considering FMT for the treatment of rCDI in children and propose FMT be considered in children with one of the following:
1. rCDI (recurrence of symptoms within 8 weeks of treatment for CDI) (either a or b)
a. At least 3 episodes of mild to moderate CDI and failure of a 6- to 8-week taper with vancomycin with or without an alternative antibiotic (eg, rifaximin, nitazoxanide).
b. At least 2 episodes of severe CDI resulting in hospitalization and associated with significant morbidity.
2. Moderate CDI not responding to standard therapy (including vancomycin) for at least 1 week. We recommend caution, however, in such cases, with repeated testing for etiologies other than CDI such as IBD.
3. Severe CDI or fulminant C difficile colitis with no response to standard therapy after 48 hours.
My take: I think the IDSA 2017 guidelines are more useful: Clostridium difficile Guidelines (2017 IDSA/SHEA)
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Currently fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) “best practices” exclude obese stool donors based on a report of germ-free mice gaining weight after FMT from mice with obesity and based on a case report of an individual with 34 pound weight gain after FMT.
A recent report (M Fischer et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 1351-3) suggests that the the BMI of the stool donor does not affect recipient weight after a single FMT procedure for C difficile infection.
This analysis included 173 patients with a mean age of 57 years. One group of 103 were from a randomized control trial; in this group, 66 (64%) received FMT from a normal weight (BMI 18-24.9) donor and 37 (36%) received FMT from an overweight (BMI 25-29.9) donor. Among an additional 70 individuals from an observational cohort, 25 received FMT from normal weight donor, 30 received FMT from overweight donor, and 15 received FMT from an obese donor.
- There was no significant difference in BMI among the FMT recipients up to 48 weeks after a single FMT. Based on data from Figure 1, patients who received FMT from normal weight donor had slightly higher mean weight gain at 48 weeks afterwards (not statistically-significant)
The authors caution that a prospective study is required to confirm these findings and in the interim, they recommend exclusion of obese/overweight FMT donors.
My take: There are plenty of willing stool donors –so who knows if this will ever be examined adequately. This study challenges the idea that FMT from an obese donor will result in recipient obesity, presumably via changes in the microbiome.
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My view is that Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) in children with inflammatory bowel disease is often overdiagnosed due to detection of a carrier state in many when tested by PCR assays and the overlapping clinical features. This is particularly important when considering fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) due to the potential risks of this treatment.
Recently, I had a letter to the editor (J Pediatr 2018; 199: 283) on this topic that was accepted:
The author’s reply suggested that their approach followed IDSA guidelines by checking CDI with PCR in those who were clinically-symptomatic. Yet, the IDSA guidelines (link here: IDSA C diff guidelines) do not focus on the issue of IBD flare-ups which cause identical symptoms. Expert IBD specialists have recommended the following for identifying CDI in patients with IBD:
“Start with enzyme immunoassay-based tests with a reflex to PCR test for discordant enzyme immunoassay results.” Rationale: “PCR is quite sensitive for the presence of toxigenic C difficile, it may increase the detection of asymptomatic colonization and shedding.” (K Rao, PDR Higgins. Inflamm Bowel Dis 2016; 22: 1744-54.)
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A recent letter (FE Juul et al. NEJM 2018; 378: 2535-6) describes the results of a small study in which fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) (n=9) was compared with metronidazole (n=11) for primary treatment of Clostridium dificille infection. The primary end point was clinical cure (firm stool consistency ≤3 BMs/day) and no evidence of recurrent C diff infeciton.
- In C diff group, 5 had full primary response and an additional 3 had full response after additional antibiotics which were added in in three of the four without primary response by day 4. By day 70, 7 of 9 (78%) had full response.
- In metronidazole group, five had full primary response. By day 70, only five of eleven (45%) had full response.
My take: It would probably be better to compare FMT to either vancomycin of fidaxomin (rather than metronidazole) for primary treatment. Until more data are available, this study does not change clinical practice of using antimicrobials for C diff as primary treatment.