Is Fecal Transplantation Needed To Treat Irritable Bowel? Three Year Data

M El-Salhy et al. Gastroenterol 2022; 163: 982-994. Open Access! Efficacy of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation for Patients With Irritable Bowel Syndrome at 3 Years After Transplantation

Background: “Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) might be a promising treatment for IBS, and this has been investigated in 7 randomized controlled trials (RCTs). 2 In 4 of these, FMT reduced symptoms and improved the quality of life of patients with IBS, whereas no effects were indicated in the other 3. 2 The difference in these results was likely because of differences in the protocols used, the selected donors, the cohort of treated patients, the fecal transplant dose, and the route by which the transplant was administrated.2

Methods: In this placebo-controlled trial with 125 patients, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) was administered into duodenum (30 g or 60 g). The donor was a healthy male aged 36 years with a normal body mass index who was born via vaginal delivery, breastfed, a nonsmoker, was not taking any medication, was only treated a few times with antibiotics, exercised regularly, and consumed a sport-specific diet that was richer in protein, fiber, minerals, and vitamins than the average diet.

Key findings:

  • Response rates were 26.3%, 69.1%, and 77.8% in the placebo, 30-g, and 60-g groups, respectively, at 2 years after FMT, and 27.0%, 64.9%, and 71.8%, respectively, at 3 years after FMT. 
  • Fluorescent signals of 10 bacteria had significant correlations with IBS symptoms and fatigue after FMT in the 30-g and 60-g groups.
  • No long-term adverse events were recorded. The authors note in the discussion rare serious safety issues with FMT but indicate in this population without systemic diseases or immune deficiency, that adverse effects were mild and self-limited gastrointestinal symptoms

The associated editorial (815–817, Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome Using Fecal Microbiota Transplantation: A Step Forward?) noted that 25% of patients in the donor FMT continue to experience severe symptoms based on IBS-SSS>300; in addition, 50% (in 30 g) and 40% (in 60 g) had moderately severe IBS scores >175.

The editorial suggests that overall response is modest bust similar to FDA-approved medications for IBS. The number needed to treat (NNT) would be 4-5 patients to reduce the proportion with severe IBS-SSS based on per-protocol analysis (most IBS medications range from 6 to 10).

My take: This study strengthens the notion that alterations in our microbiome can the outcomes of patients suffering from IBS. Now, we have to identify which patients will benefit from this approach and how to optimally modify the microbiome. In addition, this study suggests that finding an optimal FMT donor will impact results given variability in prior trials.

Related blog posts:

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Fecal Microbial Transplantation -Evidence for Use Beyond Recurrent Clostridium Difficile

Briefly noted: GR D’Haens, C Jobin. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 624-36. This review sums up the emerging evidence for use of fecal microbial transplantation for conditions besides recurrent Clostridium difficile infection.

Table 2 succinctly provides list of disease, types of study/evidence, and potential effect.

  • Among gastrointestinal diseases, the authors note that there is an “overall positive” effect for ulcerative colitis, “suggestive” benefits for IBS, GVHD, post-antibiotic diarrhea, constipation, and hepatic encephalopathy.  No effect has been evident with Crohn’s disease or pouchitis.
  • Among nongastrointestinal diseases, the authors note a “suggestive” benefit in autism and metabolic syndrome and “unknown” effect with psoriasis and multiple sclerosis.

My take: The review indicates a need for more studies and the need to define which factors in fecal material mediate the therapeutic effects.

Related article: OC Aroniadis. Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology; 2019. In this double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial in patients aged 18–65 years with moderate-to-severe IBS-D with 48 patients, FMT (capsule study) was safe, but did not induce symptom relief at 12 weeks compared with placebo.

Related blog posts:

FDA News: FDA Warning for FMT, IB-Stim Device Approval, Teduglutide Approval

1.From John Pohl Twitter Feed:  FDA Warns of One Death Linked to Fecal Transplants (6/13/19)

An excerpt:

The consent should include, at a minimum, a statement that the use of FMT to treat C. difficile is investigational and a discussion of its potential risks.

“Two immunocompromised adults who received investigational FMT developed invasive infections caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Escherichia coli (E.coli). One of the individuals died,” the agency said Thursday…

Openbiome, a nonprofit stool bank based in Cambridge, MA, told Focus: “We are saddened to hear of the recent patient death due to an infection from a multi-drug resistant organism (MDRO) transmitted through a fecal transplant. OpenBiome material was not involved. OpenBiome screens its donors and fecal transplant material for MDROs and related risk factors, and this serious event further highlights the importance of rigorous screening and clinical oversight for all fecal transplant procedures.”

 2. FDA approval for IB-stim (a.k.a. Neuro-stim) device.

Link:: FDA permits marketing of first medical device for relief of pain associated with irritable bowel syndrome in patients 11-18 years of age

An excerpt:

IB-Stim treatment resulted in at least a 30% decrease in usual pain at the end of three weeks in 52% of treated patients compared to 30% of patients who received the placebo, and at least a 30% decrease in worst pain in 59% of treated patients compared with 26% of patients who received the placebo.

:Kovacic K1Hainsworth K2Sood M1Chelimsky G1Unteutsch R1Nugent M3Simpson P3Miranda A4. 2017 Oct;2(10):727-737. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(17)30253-4. Epub 2017 Aug 18.

Link to abstract of relevant study:  Neurostimulation for abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders in adolescents: a randomised, double-blind, sham-controlled trial.

3. FDA Approves Gattex (Teduglutide) for Pediatric SBS

From CenterWatch: Gattex New FDA Drug Approval

Pediatric SBS: “In a 24-week pediatric study 59 pediatric patients with SBS aged 1 year through 17 years chose whether to receive Gattex or standard of care (SOC)…Based on patient-diary data, patients who received Gattex 0.05 mg/kg/day experienced a 42% mean reduction in PS volume (mL/kg/day) from baseline (-23 mL/kg/day from baseline). At week 24, 38% of patients (10/26) were able to reduce PS infusion by at least 1 day per week. Patients reduced their PS infusion time by 3 hours per day on average compared to baseline.”

Related blog post: Teduglutide for SBS

Jeppesen PB, Pertkiewicz M, Messing B, Iyer K, Seidner DL, O’keefe SJ, Forbes A, Heinze H, Joelsson B Teduglutide reduces need for parenteral support among patients with short bowel syndrome with intestinal failure. Gastroenterology 2012 Dec;143(6):1473-1481

Jeppesen PB, Gilroy R, Pertkiewicz M, Allard JP, Messing B, O’Keefe SJ Randomised placebo-controlled trial of teduglutide in reducing parenteral nutrition and/or intravenous fluid requirements in patients with short bowel syndrome. Gut 2011 Jul;60(7):902-14.

Latest News: ‘Georgia Girl Saved by Fecal Transplant’

For those not able to see the live presentation…

GI Care for Kids physician, Jeff Lewis, helped bring fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) to Georgia. Here’s a success story from Fox5 Atlanta from August 31, 2015.  Here’s the link:

Georgia Girl Saved by Fecal Transplant  This link includes a 4:08 video and written summary as well.

From Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 6.38.42 PM




OpenBiome -Nation’s 1st Human Stool Bank

From NY Times:

An excerpt:
Around noon on a recent Friday, Donor Five, a healthy 31-year-old, walked across M.I.T.’s frigid, wind-swept campus to a third-floor restroom to make a contribution to public health.

Less than two hours later, a technician blended the donor’s stool into preparations that looked like chocolate milk. The material was separated and stored in freezers at an M.I.T. microbiology lab, awaiting shipment to hospitals around the country. Each container was carefully labeled: Fecal Microbiota Preparation.

Nearly a year ago, Mark Smith, a 27-year-old doctoral candidate, and three colleagues launched OpenBiome, the nation’s first human stool bank. Its mission: to provide doctors with safe, inexpensive fecal material from screened donors to treat patients with Clostridium difficile, a gastrointestinal infection that kills at least 14,000 Americans a year.

“People are dying, and it’s crazy because we know what the solution is,” Mr. Smith said. “People are doing fecal transplants in their basements and may not be doing any of the right screening or sterile preparation. We need an intermediate solution until there are commercial products on the market.”…

The bacteria are increasingly resistant to conventional treatments. But researchers have discovered an alternative: A donor’s stool can be transplanted in the intestine or colon of a sick patient via an enema, colonoscopy or nasogastric tube. The healthy bacteria fight off C. diff and re-establish a normal community in the gut.

A study published last year in The New England Journal of Medicine found that fecal transplants were nearly twice as effective as antibiotics in treating patients with recurring C. difficile.

But where to get healthy donor stool? For doctors, it’s a tedious, time-consuming process, and some patients turn awkwardly to relatives or friends. Since September, OpenBiome has delivered more than 135 frozen, ready-to-use preparations to 13 hospitals. The nonprofit project fields dozens of requests from doctors, hospitals and patients every week. (The preparations are not sent directly to patients.) 

Carol Capps, 75, a retired nurse in Clemmons, N.C., had been in and out of hospitals for months with a C. diff infection that was not going away despite multiple courses of antibiotics. After a recurrence, her doctor suggested OpenBiome, and she received a fecal transplant. By that afternoon, Ms. Capps said, she felt like a new person and has been healthy since…

Because of the legal ambiguity, some researchers are not preparing fecal microbiota for sale (usually at cost) …

At the same time, Mr. Smith and Eric J. Alm, an M.I.T. microbiologist and adviser to OpenBiome, said the F.D.A.’s classification of fecal transplants as drugs hinders research into their possible uses to treat inflammatory bowel diseases and obesity.

Related blog posts: