Lyophilised oral faecal microbiota transplantation for ulcerative colitis (LOTUS): a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022 Feb;7(2):141-151. doi: 10.1016/S2468-1253(21)00400-3. Epub 2021 Dec 2.


Background: Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) delivered via colonoscopic infusion or enemas have been shown to induce remission in a proportion of patients with active ulcerative colitis. Whether orally administered FMT is effective in ulcerative colitis is unknown. We aimed to assess the efficacy of oral lyophilised FMT for the treatment of active ulcerative colitis.

Methods: A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial was conducted at two centres in Australia. Eligible patients were aged 18-75 years with active ulcerative colitis (defined as clinical and endoscopic active ulcerative colitis, with a total Mayo score of 4-10, and a Mayo endoscopic subscore ≥1). After 2 weeks of amoxicillin, metronidazole, and doxycycline, patients were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either oral lyophilised FMT or placebo capsules for 8 weeks, using a prespecified computer-generated randomisation list with a permuted block size of 8. The primary outcome was corticosteroid-free clinical remission with endoscopic remission or response (total Mayo score ≤2, all subscores ≤1, and ≥1 point reduction in endoscopic subscore) at week 8. At week 8, FMT responders were randomly assigned (in a 1:1 ratio, permuted block size of 8) to either continue or withdraw FMT for a further 48 weeks. Analyses were done by modified intention-to-treat, including all patients who received at least one study dose. This trial is registered with Australian New Zealand Trial Registry, number ACTRN 12619000611123; this is the final report of the trial.

Findings: Between May 20, 2019, and March 24, 2020, 35 patients were randomly assigned: 15 to receive FMT and 20 to receive placebo. Recruitment was terminated early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At week 8, eight (53%) of 15 patients in the FMT group were in corticosteroid-free clinical remission with endoscopic remission or response, as were three (15%) of 20 patients in the placebo group (difference 38·3%, 95% CI 8·6-68·0; p=0·027; odds ratio 5·0, 95% CI 1·8-14·1). Adverse events occurred in 10 (67%) patients in the FMT group and 17 (85%) of those in the placebo group during the 8-week induction period, and were generally mild and self-limiting gastrointestinal complaints. Serious adverse events included worsening ulcerative colitis (two in the FMT group, one in the placebo group) and per-rectal bleeding (one in the placebo group). Ten patients in the FMT group who achieved a clinical or endoscopic response entered the maintenance phase and were randomly assigned to continue open-label FMT (n=4) or withdraw therapy (n=6). All four (100%) patients who continued FMT were in clinical, endoscopic, and histologic remission at week 56 compared with none of the patients who had FMT withdrawn.

Interpretation: Antibiotics followed by orally administered FMT was associated with the induction of remission in patients with active ulcerative colitis. Continuing FMT was well tolerated and appeared to demonstrate clinical, endoscopic, and histological efficacy. Oral FMT could be a promising and feasible treatment option for patients with ulcerative colitis.

Funding: St Vincent's Clinic Foundation, Gastroenterological Society of Australia, Gutsy Group.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / pathology
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fecal Microbiota Transplantation / methods*
  • Female
  • Freeze Drying
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Remission Induction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents