Breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of Clostridium difficile infection

Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Mar;13(3):150-60. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2015.220. Epub 2016 Feb 10.


This Review summarizes the latest advances in the treatment and prevention of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), which is now the most common health-care-associated infection in the USA. As traditional, standard CDI antibiotic therapies (metronidazole and vancomycin) are limited by their broad spectrum and further perturbation of the intestinal microbiota, which result in unacceptably high recurrence rates, novel therapeutic strategies for CDI are needed. Emerging CDI therapies are focused on limiting further perturbation of the intestinal microbiota and/or restoring the microbiota to its pre-morbid state, reducing colonization of the intestinal tract by toxigenic strains of C. difficile and bolstering the host immune response against C. difficile toxins. Fidaxomicin is associated with reduced CDI recurrences, and other emerging narrow-spectrum CDI antibiotic therapies might eventually demonstrate a similar benefit. Prevention of intestinal colonization of toxigenic strains of C. difficile can be achieved through restoration of the intestinal microbiota with faecal microbiota transplantation, as well as by colonizing the gut with nontoxigenic C. difficile strains. Finally, emerging immunological therapies, including monoclonal antibodies and vaccines against C. difficile toxins, might protect against CDI and subsequent CDI recurrences. The available clinical data for these emerging therapies, and their relative advantages and disadvantages, are described.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Clostridium difficile*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / drug therapy*
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / etiology
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / prevention & control*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Immunologic Factors