Faecal transplantation for the treatment of Clostridium difficile infection: a review

Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2014 Mar;43(3):201-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2013.10.009. Epub 2013 Nov 9.


Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) remains a major healthcare burden despite recent global falls in its prevalence. The risk of recurrence is high when using antibiotics such as vancomycin, particularly in already recurrent disease. In light of this, new therapy options are being perused, including novel antibiotics such as fidaxomicin, probiotics, intravenous immunoglobulin and faecal transplantation. Faecal transplantation, referred to here as human probiotic infusion (HPI), is attracting an increasing amount of interest from physicians and patients. Its use has been documented in ca. 500 cases for the treatment of CDI, with overall efficacy rates reported to be ca. 91%. The first randomised controlled trial (RCT) demonstrated that HPI was superior to a 14-day course of vancomycin (89% vs. 31%; P<0.001) and reported no deaths or serious adverse events. Safety and patient acceptability are often cited as limitations to the widespread use of this technique. However, data suggest that the short-term safety profile is encouraging, and concerns over patient acceptability are not warranted in the majority of cases. It seems appropriate to treat an infection which is caused by a major disturbance in the gut microbiota with a treatment that reverses this disturbance, rather than antibiotics that may exacerbate the problem. However, to fully understand the role of HPI in the management of CDI, further RCTs are needed with comparator antibiotics such as fidaxomicin and to establish the most efficacious HPI protocol for administration and preparation.

Keywords: Bacteriotherapy; Clostridium difficile; Faecal microbiota transplant; Faecal transplant; Human probiotic infusion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biological Therapy / adverse effects
  • Biological Therapy / methods*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Clostridium Infections / therapy*
  • Gastroenteritis / microbiology
  • Gastroenteritis / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Treatment Outcome