Gleaning Insights from Fecal Microbiota Transplantation and Probiotic Studies for the Rational Design of Combination Microbial Therapies

Clin Microbiol Rev. 2017 Jan;30(1):191-231. doi: 10.1128/CMR.00049-16.


Beneficial microorganisms hold promise for the treatment of numerous gastrointestinal diseases. The transfer of whole microbiota via fecal transplantation has already been shown to ameliorate the severity of diseases such as Clostridium difficile infection, inflammatory bowel disease, and others. However, the exact mechanisms of fecal microbiota transplant efficacy and the particular strains conferring this benefit are still unclear. Rationally designed combinations of microbial preparations may enable more efficient and effective treatment approaches tailored to particular diseases. Here we use an infectious disease, C. difficile infection, and an inflammatory disorder, the inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis, as examples to facilitate the discussion of how microbial therapy might be rationally designed for specific gastrointestinal diseases. Fecal microbiota transplantation has already shown some efficacy in the treatment of both these disorders; detailed comparisons of studies evaluating commensal and probiotic organisms in the context of these disparate gastrointestinal diseases may shed light on potential protective mechanisms and elucidate how future microbial therapies can be tailored to particular diseases.

Keywords: Clostridium difficile; fecal microbiota transplantation; microbiota; probiotics; ulcerative colitis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Clostridioides difficile / isolation & purification
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Enterocolitis, Pseudomembranous / therapy*
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation / methods*
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy
  • Probiotics / administration & dosage*
  • Research Design
  • Treatment Outcome