Background: Recurrent Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) with poor response to standard antimicrobial therapy is a growing medical concern. We aimed to investigate the outcomes of fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) for relapsing CDI using a frozen suspension from unrelated donors, comparing colonoscopic and nasogastric tube (NGT) administration.
Methods: Healthy volunteer donors were screened and a frozen fecal suspension was generated. Patients with relapsing/refractory CDI were randomized to receive an infusion of donor stools by colonoscopy or NGT. The primary endpoint was clinical resolution of diarrhea without relapse after 8 weeks. The secondary endpoint was self-reported health score using standardized questionnaires.
Results: A total of 20 patients were enrolled, 10 in each treatment arm. Patients had a median of 4 (range, 2-16) relapses prior to study enrollment, with 5 (range, 3-15) antibiotic treatment failures. Resolution of diarrhea was achieved in 14 patients (70%) after a single FMT (8 of 10 in the colonoscopy group and 6 of 10 in the NGT group). Five patients were retreated, with 4 obtaining cure, resulting in an overall cure rate of 90%. Daily number of bowel movements changed from a median of 7 (interquartile range [IQR], 5-10) the day prior to FMT to 2 (IQR, 1-2) after the infusion. Self-ranked health score improved significantly, from a median of 4 (IQR, 2-6) before transplant to 8 (IQR, 5-9) after transplant. No serious or unexpected adverse events occurred.
Conclusions: In our initial feasibility study, FMT using a frozen inoculum from unrelated donors is effective in treating relapsing CDI. NGT administration appears to be as effective as colonoscopic administration.
Clinical trials registration: NCT01704937.
Keywords: Clostridium difficile; fecal microbiota transplant; frozen inoculum; microbiome.