Prevalence of Clostridium difficile infection among solid organ transplant recipients: a meta-analysis of published studies

PLoS One. 2015 Apr 17;10(4):e0124483. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0124483. eCollection 2015.


Several factors including antibiotic use, immunosuppression and frequent hospitalizations make solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients vulnerable to Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). We conducted a meta-analysis of published studies from 1991-2014 to estimate the prevalence of CDI in this patient population. We searched PubMed, EMBASE and Google Scholar databases. Among the 75,940 retrieved citations, we found 30 studies coded from 35 articles that were relevant to our study. Based on these studies, we estimated the prevalence of CDI among 21,683 patients who underwent transplantation of kidney, liver, lungs, heart, pancreas, intestine or more than one organ and stratified each study based on the type of transplanted organ, place of the study conduction, and size of patient population. The overall estimated prevalence in SOT recipients was 7.4% [95%CI, (5.6-9.5%)] and it varied based on the type of organ transplant. The prevalence was 12.7% [95%CI, (6.4%-20.9%)] among patients who underwent transplantation for more than one organ. The prevalence among other SOT recipients was: lung 10.8% [95% CI, (5.5%-17.7%)], liver 9.1 % [95%CI, (5.8%-13.2%)], intestine 8% [95% CI, (2.6%-15.9%)], heart 5.2% [95%CI, (1.8%-10.2%)], kidney 4.7% [95% CI, (2.6%-7.3%)], and pancreas 3.2% [95% CI, (0.5%-7.9%)]. Among the studies that reported relevant data, the estimated prevalence of severe CDI was 5.3% [95% CI (2.3%-9.3%)] and the overall recurrence rate was 19.7% [95% CI, (13.7%-26.6%)]. In summary, CDI is a significant complication after SOT and preventive strategies are important in order to reduce the CDI related morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification*
  • Clostridium Infections / epidemiology*
  • Clostridium Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Organ Transplantation*

Grant support

The authors received no specific funding for this work.