Fecal Microbiota Therapy With a Focus on Clostridium difficile Infection

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There has been a paradigm shift in our view of bacteria away from their role as just pathogens. We now have a deepening appreciation of their critical influences in our health maintenance, including energy harvest, metabolism, intestinal development, cell proliferation, nervous system and immune function, as well as their role to protect against intestinal and other infections. A perturbed intestinal microbiome has been associated with an increasing number of gastrointestinal and nongastrointestinal diseases but particularly with Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). Although such association does not imply causation, it has been shown that fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) can correct the dysbiosis that characterizes chronic and recurring CDI and that FMT can effect a seemingly safe and rapidly effective cure for most patients with CDI so treated. FMT has been used to treat a wide range of other diseases, although conclusions about efficacy in any disease other than CDI must await appropriate well-designed trials. More work needs to be conducted with FMT, especially to evaluate and ensure its long-term safety. Future studies are likely to narrow the spectrum of organisms that needs to be given to patients to cure CDI, and perhaps other diseases, and to elucidate the mechanisms whereby such therapeutic benefit occurs. FMT is but the first step in this journey.

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