Background: Once antibiotic-resistant bacteria become established within the gut microbiota, they can cause infections in the host and be transmitted to other people and the environment. Currently, there are no effective modalities for decreasing or preventing colonization by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Intestinal microbiota restoration can prevent Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) recurrences. Another potential application of microbiota restoration is suppression of non-C. difficile multidrug-resistant bacteria and overall decrease in the abundance of antibiotic resistance genes (the resistome) within the gut microbiota. This study characterizes the effects of RBX2660, a microbiota-based investigational therapeutic, on the composition and abundance of the gut microbiota and resistome, as well as multidrug-resistant organism carriage, after delivery to patients suffering from recurrent CDI.
Methods: An open-label, multi-center clinical trial in 11 centers in the USA for the safety and efficacy of RBX2660 on recurrent CDI was conducted. Fecal specimens from 29 of these subjects with recurrent CDI who received either one (N = 16) or two doses of RBX2660 (N = 13) were analyzed secondarily. Stool samples were collected prior to and at intervals up to 6 months post-therapy and analyzed in three ways: (1) 16S rRNA gene sequencing for microbiota taxonomic composition, (2) whole metagenome shotgun sequencing for functional pathways and antibiotic resistome content, and (3) selective and differential bacterial culturing followed by isolate genome sequencing to longitudinally track multidrug-resistant organisms.
Results: Successful prevention of CDI recurrence with RBX2660 correlated with taxonomic convergence of patient microbiota to the donor microbiota as measured by weighted UniFrac distance. RBX2660 dramatically reduced the abundance of antibiotic-resistant Enterobacteriaceae in the 2 months after administration. Fecal antibiotic resistance gene carriage decreased in direct relationship to the degree to which donor microbiota engrafted.
Conclusions: Microbiota-based therapeutics reduce resistance gene abundance and resistant organisms in the recipient gut microbiome. This approach could potentially reduce the risk of infections caused by resistant organisms within the patient and the transfer of resistance genes or pathogens to others.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT01925417 ; registered on August 19, 2013.
Keywords: Antibiotic resistance; Clostridioides difficile; Fecal microbiota transplantation; Metagenomics; Microbiome; Multidrug resistance.