Transmission and clearance of potential procarcinogenic bacteria during fecal microbiota transplantation for recurrent Clostridioides difficile

Julia L. Drewes, Alina Corona, Uriel Sanchez, Yunfan Fan, Suchitra K. Hourigan, Melissa Weidner, Sarah D. Sidhu, Patricia J. Simner, Hao Wang, Winston Timp, Maria Oliva-Hemker, Cynthia L. Sears

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is an effective treatment for recurrent Clostridioides difficile infection (rCDI) in adults and children, but donor stool samples are currently screened for only a limited number of potential pathogens. We sought to determine whether putative procarcinogenic bacteria (enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, Fusobacterium nucleatum, and Escherichia coli harboring the colibactin toxin) could be durably transmitted from donors to patients during FMT. METHODS. Stool samples were collected from 11 pediatric rCDI patients and their respective FMT donors prior to FMT as well as from the patients at 2–10 weeks, 10–20 weeks, and 6 months after FMT. Bacterial virulence factors in stool DNA extracts and stool cultures were measured by quantitative PCR: Bacteroides fragilis toxin (bft), Fusobacterium adhesin A (fadA), and Escherichia coli colibactin (clbB). RESULTS. Four of 11 patients demonstrated sustained acquisition of a procarcinogenic bacteria. Whole genome sequencing was performed on colony isolates from one of these donor/recipient pairs and demonstrated that clbB+ E. coli strains present in the recipient after FMT were identical to a strain present in the donor, confirming strain transmission. Conversely, 2 patients exhibited clearance of procarcinogenic bacteria following FMT from a negative donor. CONCLUSION. Both durable transmission and clearance of procarcinogenic bacteria occurred following FMT, suggesting that additional studies on appropriate screening measures for FMT donors and the long-term consequences and/or benefits of FMT are warranted. FUNDING. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, the Bloomberg~Kimmel Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the National Cancer Institute, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere130848
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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