The role of faecal microbiota transplantation: looking beyond Clostridioides difficile infection

Ther Adv Infect Dis. 2021 Jan 25;8:2049936120981526.doi: 10.1177/2049936120981526. eCollection Jan-Dec 2021.

Simon D Goldenberg 1, Blair Merrick 2


Author information

  • 1Centre for Clinical Infection & Diagnostics Research, King's College London and Guy's & St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, 5th floor, North Wing, St Thomas' hospital, Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7EH, UK.
  • 2Centre for Clinical Infection & Diagnostics Research, King's College London and Guy's & St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK.


Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is the transfer of screened and minimally processed faecal material from a 'healthy' donor to 'diseased' recipient. It has an established role, and is recommended as a therapeutic strategy, in the management of recurrent Clostridioides difficileinfection (CDI). Recognition that gut dysbiosis is associated with, and may contribute to, numerous disease states has led to interest in exploiting FMT to 'correct' this microbial imbalance. Conditions for which it is proposed to be beneficial include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, liver disease and hepatic encephalopathy, neuropsychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, systemic inflammatory states like sepsis, and even coronavirus disease 2019. To understand what role, if any, FMT may play in the management of these conditions, it is important to consider the potential risks and benefits of the therapy. Regardless, there are several barriers to its more widespread adoption, which include incompletely understood mechanism of action (especially outside of CDI), inability to standardise treatment, disagreement on its active ingredients and how it should be regulated, and lack of long-term outcome and safety data. Whilst the transfer of faecal material from one individual to another to treat ailments or improve health has a history dating back thousands of years, there are fewer than 10 randomised controlled trials supporting its use. Moving forward, it will be imperative to gather as much data from FMT donors and recipients over as long a timeframe as possible, and for trials to be conducted with rigorous methodology, including appropriate control groups, in order to best understand the utility of FMT for indications beyond CDI. This review discusses the history of FMT, its appreciable mechanisms of action with reference to CDI, indications for FMT with an emerging evidence base above and beyond CDI, and future perspectives on the field.

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