Oral Vancomycin Prophylaxis Is Highly Effective in Preventing Clostridium difficile Infection in Allogeneic Hematopoietic Cell Transplant Recipients

Clin Infect Dis. 2019 May 30;68(12):2003-2009. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciy822.


Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a leading cause of infectious complications in allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant recipients (alloHCT). We sought to evaluate whether prophylactic oral vancomycin reduces the incidence of CDI in alloHCT recipients.

Methods: We conducted a retrospective cohort study to examine the effectiveness of CDI prophylaxis with oral vancomycin, as compared to no prophylaxis, in 145 consecutive adult alloHCT recipients at the University of Pennsylvania between April 2015 and November 2016. Patients received oral vancomycin 125 mg twice daily, starting on admission and continuing until discharge. The primary outcome of interest was the association between oral vancomycin prophylaxis and CDI diagnosis. Secondary outcomes included graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) and relapse.

Results: There were no cases of CDI in patients that received prophylaxis (0/90, 0%), whereas 11/55 (20%) patients who did not receive prophylaxis developed CDI (P < .001). Oral vancomycin prophylaxis was not associated with a higher risk of acute, grades 2-4 GVHD (subhazard ratio [sHR] 1.59; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.88-2.89; P = .12), acute, grades 3-4 GVHD (sHR 0.65; 95% CI 0.25-1.66; P = .36), or acute, grades 2-4 gastrointestinal GVHD (sHR 1.95; 95% CI 0.93-4.07; P = .08) at day 180 post-transplant. No associations between oral vancomycin and relapse or survival were observed.

Conclusions: Prophylaxis with oral vancomycin is highly effective in preventing CDI in alloHCT recipients without increasing the risk of graft-versus-host disease or disease relapse. Further evaluation via a prospective study is warranted.

Keywords: Clostridium difficile; stem cell transplant; vancomycin.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis* / methods
  • Clostridium Infections / etiology*
  • Clostridium Infections / mortality
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control*
  • Clostridium difficile / drug effects*
  • Clostridium difficile / immunology
  • Female
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / complications*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time-to-Treatment
  • Transplant Recipients*
  • Transplantation, Homologous / adverse effects
  • Vancomycin / administration & dosage*
  • Young Adult


  • Vancomycin