Elemental diet modulates the growth of Clostridium difficile in the gut flora

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Background and aims

Tube feeding is regarded as a risk factor for Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhoea. Recently, we reported that C. difficile toxin was frequently found in patients receiving an elemental diet. The present study was conducted to clarify whether elemental diets are associated with the growth of C. difficile in the gut flora.


C. difficile was cultured for 72 h in various concentrations of elemental diet containing 3% thioglycollate, and the growth rate or activity of C. difficile was evaluated by Gram stain or by measuring optical density at 560 nm. Faecal samples from 10 healthy adults were cultured in elemental diet + 3% thioglycollate. RNA was extracted from faeces with glass powder, which can eliminate PCR inhibitors, and mRNA of C. difficile toxin B was measured by reverse transcription PCR.


Maximum OD560 value during culture in thioglycollate-containing elemental diet was 2.4 times higher than that in thioglycollate alone (P = 0.0163). Viability of C. difficile was decreased in thioglycollate but not in thioglycollate-containing elemental diet. Toxin B mRNA was detected in five faecal samples (50%) before culture and in all samples after culture.


Our results suggest that an elemental diet can modulate the growth of C. difficile in the gut flora.

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