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  • Jefferson Adams

    Fecal Microbiota Transplant Restores Gut Microbiome

    Jefferson Adams
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    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Sufferers of C. difficile infections have new hope in fecal translpants. Photo: CC--Kevin Jarrett.
    Caption: Sufferers of C. difficile infections have new hope in fecal translpants. Photo: CC--Kevin Jarrett.

    Celiac.com 09/16/2016 - Great news about poop transplants: They work! And now doctors kind of understand how and why they work. This is good news about a humor provoking, but very serious matter.

    Clostridium difficile infection is one of the most common health care-associated infections, and up to 40% of patients suffer from recurrence of disease following standard antibiotic therapy. C. difficile infection has proven to be very difficult to treat. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has been successfully used to treat recurrent C. difficile infection. Doctors hypothesize that FMT promotes recovery of a microbiota capable of colonization resistance to C. difficile. However, they didn't really understand how it worked.



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    Recently, a research team investigated changes in the fecal microbiota structure following FMT in patients with recurrent C. difficile infection, and imputed a hypothetical functional profile based on the 16S rRNA profile, using a predictive metagenomic tool. After FMT, they also noted increased relative abundance of Bacteroidetes and decreased abundance of Proteobacteria.

    The research team included Anna M. Seekatz, Johannes Aas, Charles E. Gessert, Timothy A. Rubin, Daniel M. Saman, Johan S. Bakken, and Vincent B. Young. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Essentia Health, Department of Gastroenterology, Duluth, Minnesota, USA; Essentia Institute of Rural Health, Duluth, Minnesota, USA; and St. Luke's Hospital, Section of Infectious Diseases, Duluth, Minnesota, USA.

    Their results showed that, after transplantation, fecal microbiota of recipients was more diverse, and more similar to the donor profile, than the microbiota before transplantation. Additionally, they observed differences in the imputed metagenomic profile. In particular, amino acid transport systems were over-represented in samples collected prior to transplantation.

    These results Indicate that functional changes accompany microbial structural changes following this therapy. Further identification of the specific microbiota, and functions that promote colonization resistance, may help to create better treatment methods for C. difficile infection.

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    My celiac disease was triggered by an antibiotic called Augmentin, which is actually two antibiotics at high strength. My wife is a GI nurse, and fortunately I was quickly diagnosed with celiac disease quickly after this event. But as this article points out, the gut biome is painfully under-researched.

    This is actually old news, as my wife has participated in these transplants for years, right here in the USA. I've often wondered and discussed with my wife if the right microbiome could help/cure my celiac disease. But obviously the only way to make money from feces is in politics and farming, so medical industry help in this area won't be coming soon.

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,500 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in science, scientific methodology, biology, anatomy, medicine, logic, and advanced research. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.


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