Characteristics of Fecal Microbiota Transplantation Use in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Cohort

Crohns Colitis 360. 2020 Apr;2(2):otaa024. doi: 10.1093/crocol/otaa024. Epub 2020 Apr 18.

Christina M Bauer 1 2, Xian Zhang 1, Millie D Long 1 2, Robert S Sandler 1


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1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

2Multidisciplinary Center for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

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Background: There is a growing interest in the role of gut bacteria in a number of diseases and an emerging hypothesis that inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is triggered by microbial dysbiosis in genetically susceptible individuals. Currently, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is utilized for the treatment of Clostridium difficile colitis. Data on the efficacy of FMT for IBD are mixed, but patients are interested in its use for the treatment of IBD. We sought to describe the use of FMT (self or medical professional administered) in individuals with IBD using IBD Partners, an Internet-based cohort.

Methods: Patients enrolled in the IBD Partners cohort were offered the opportunity to complete an optional survey on the use of FMT between January 2017 to September 2018 (n = 5430). A cross-sectional analysis was performed within patients who completed the survey and did not have a pouch or ostomy. Patients' demographic characteristics, disease activity and phenotype, mode of FMT delivery, and patient-reported efficacy were compared.

Results: Among 3274 eligible patients, 51 (1.6%) responded that they had an FMT in the past. Of patients undergoing FMT, 22 patients had the FMT for C. difficile while 29 reported that the FMT was for another indication. Most patients receiving FMT for an indication other than C. difficile had ulcerative colitis/indeterminate colitis (25, 86.2%). Colonoscopy (68.2%) and nasogastric tube (18.2%) were the most common routes of administration for patients receiving FMT for C. difficilecolitis. Self-administration (72.4%) and enemas (17.2%) were the most common routes of administration in patients receiving FMT for an alternate indication. Patients reporting FMT for an indication other than C. difficile were less likely to have a physician directing their FMT treatment (20.6%) as compared to patients receiving FMT for C. difficile (86.3%). Patient-reported efficacy was lower for FMT given for a non-C. difficile indication.

Conclusions: Patients undergoing FMT for an indication other than C. difficile infection were more likely to have ulcerative colitis, self-administer FMT, and were less likely to be receiving FMT under the guidance of a medical professional. FMT was not as effective for symptoms when given for a non-C. difficile indication. Patients should be counseled on potential harms and lack of proven benefit associated with FMT for IBD indications to try to discourage self-administered FMT without proper medical oversite.

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