Impact of investigational microbiota therapeutic RBX2660 on the gut microbiome and resistome revealed by a placebo-controlled clinical trial

Microbiome. 2020 Aug 31;8(1):125. doi: 10.1186/s40168-020-00907-9.


Background: Intestinal microbiota restoration can be achieved by complementing a subject's perturbed microbiota with that of a healthy donor. Recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection (rCDI) is one key application of such treatment. Another emerging application of interest is reducing antibiotic-resistant genes (ARGs) and organisms (AROs). In this study, we investigated fecal specimens from a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2b study of microbiota-based investigational drug RBX2660. Patients were administered either placebo, 1 dose of RBX2660 and 1 placebo, or 2 doses of RBX2660 via enema and longitudinally tracked for changes in their microbiome and antibiotic resistome.

Results: All patients exhibited significant recovery of gut microbiome diversity and a decrease of ARG relative abundance during the first 7 days post-treatment. However, the microbiome and resistome shifts toward average configurations from unperturbed individuals were more significant and longer-lasting in RBX2660 recipients compared to placebo. We quantified microbiome and resistome modification by RBX2660 using a novel "transplantation index" metric. We identified taxonomic and metabolic features distinguishing the baseline microbiome of non-transplanted patients and taxa specifically enriched during the process of transplantation. We elucidated the correlation between resistome and taxonomic transplantations and post-treatment dynamics of patient-specific and RBX2660-specific ARGs. Whole genome sequencing of AROs cultured from RBX2660 product and patient samples indicate ARO eradication in patients via RBX2660 administration, but also, to a lesser extent, introduction of RBX2660-derived AROs.

Conclusions: Through shotgun metagenomic sequencing, we elucidated the effects of RBX2660 in the microbiome and resistome. Antibiotic discontinuation alone resulted in significant recovery of gut microbial diversity and reduced ARG relative abundance, but RBX2660 administration more rapidly and completely changed the composition of patients' microbiome, resistome, and ARO colonization by transplanting RBX2660 microbiota into the recipients. Although ARGs and AROs were transmitted through RBX2660, the resistome post-RBX2660 more closely resembled that of the administered product-a proxy for the donor-than an antibiotic perturbed state.

Trial registration:, NCT02299570 . Registered 19 November 2014 Video Abstract.

Keywords: Antibiotic-resistant organisms; Clostridioides difficile infection; Microbiome; Microbiota-based therapy; Placebo; Resistome.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Biodiversity*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microbiota*
  • Middle Aged

Associated data