Purpose: Clostridium difficile has been reported to occur in the gastrointestinal tract of 50% of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) subjects, however, clinical C. difficile infection (CDI) is a rare occurrence in this cohort despite the presence of toxigenic and hypervirulent ribotypes. Here, we present the first longitudinal, multicentre analysis of C. difficile prevalence among adult CF subjects.
Methodology: Faecal samples were collected from adults with CF (selected based on confirmed Pseudomonas aeruginosa pulmonary colonisation) from Ireland, UK and Belgium as part of the CFMATTERS clinical research trial (grant No. 603038) and from non-CF controls. Faecal samples were collected on enrolment, at three monthly intervals, during pulmonary exacerbation and three months post exacerbation. C. difficile was isolated from faecal samples by ethanol shocking followed by culturing on cycloserine cefoxitin egg yolk agar. Isolates were characterised in terms of ribotype, toxin type and antibiotic susceptibility to antibiotics routinely used in the treatment of CDI (metronidazole and vancomycin) and those implicated in induction of CDI (ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin).
Results: Prevalence of C. difficile among CF subjects in the three sites was similar ranging from 47% to 50% at baseline, while the healthy control cohort had a carriage rate of 7.1%. Including subjects who were positive for C. difficile at any time point there was a higher carriage rate of 71.4%, 66.7% and 63.2% in Ireland, UK, and Belgium, respectively. Ribotyping of 80 isolates from 45 CF persons, over multiple time points revealed 23 distinct ribotypes with two ribotypes (046 and 078) shared by all centres. The proportion of toxigenic isolates varied across the sites, ranging from 66.7% in Ireland to 52.9% in Belgium and 100% in the UK. Antibiotic susceptibility rates to vancomycin, metronidazole, ciprofloxacin and moxifloxacin was 100%, 97.5%, 1.3% and 63.8%, respectively.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates the highest carriage rate of C. difficile to date in a CF cohort. Longitudinal data show that C. difficile can be a transient inhabitant of the CF gut, changing both in terms of strain and excretion rates.
Keywords: Clostridium difficile; Clostridium difficile infection; Cystic Fibrosis; Europe.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.