Researchers test fecal transplantation to treat ulcerative colitis

July 2, 2015

Two new studies led by researchers from the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute at McMaster University show that transplantation of fecal matter may be a useful tool in the fight against ulcerative colitis (UC).

Ulcerative colitis is a chronic, debilitating inflammatory bowel condition characterized by symptoms including bloody stools, diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and malnutrition. It results from the development of abnormal immune responses to the normal in the digestive tract. It is difficult to treat and standard therapy doesn't always work.

There is currently great interest in treating UC with fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT), which involves transplanting gut fecal bacteria from healthy people into patients with UC.

A study recently published in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases found that UC can be controlled by the type of bacteria that inhabits the gut. The study was led by Elena Verdu, an associate professor of medicine with the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

"Our animal research provides insight that selected bacterial groups, involved in gut health, are important for protecting the colon against injury and inflammation," said Verdu.

Along the same theme, in research published on June 29, 2015 in Gastroenterology, professor of medicine Paul Moayyedi and his team explored the safety and efficacy of FMT by conducting a placebo-controlled, randomized trial. They found that "FMT induces remission in a significantly greater percentage of patients with active UC than placebo," the authors wrote.

"Our study in patients with ulcerative colitis is the first randomized trial of fecal microbiota transplantation in adults with ulcerative colitis and shows that this therapy may work," said Moayyedi. "The effect of fecal transplant seems to be dependent on the sort of bacteria that is in the donor stool, which fits with the observations of Dr. Verdu's animal study."

In Verdu's study, mice were given from patients with severe UC and the effects were compared to those produced in mice that were given bacteria from a healthy person. The results identified a reduced amount of the bacterial families that are important for gut health in the feces of patients with severe colitis.

Second, they found that when mice were given these bacteria and then exposed to a toxin that causes gut injury, the resulting inflammation was higher in the mice with UC bacteria than in mice with bacteria from the healthy person, in whom the beneficial bacterial groups were abundant.

"The study also showed that the same protective effect could be achieved using the fecal material from the healthy person as with specific groups of bacteria that were isolated from the 'healthy' fecal matter," said Verdu. "This suggests that specific combinations of beneficial bacteria extracted from healthy people could be tested in future clinical fecal transplantation studies, and could potentially replace fecal matter."

Verdu said the implications of her study relate to the selection of healthy donors for fecal transplantation.

"In addition to screening for infections and disease, donors that harbour an abundance of the beneficial bacterial groups identified in our study could be selected to increase the chances of success of transplantation," said Verdu.

Moayyedi and his team, including McMaster professors Michael Surette and Christine Lee, recruited 75 patients with a flare up of their UC and randomized them to fecal transplant therapy given as an enema derived from stool donated by an anonymous healthy donor once per week for six weeks, or a placebo consisting of a water enema. They found 24 per cent were in remission in the group compared to five per cent in the placebo group. There were two main healthy donors, donor A and donor B - one of which was the healthy donor from Verdu's mouse study - and benefit seemed to be mostly related to those that received stool from donor B. The effect was also greater in those that had recently been diagnosed with UC.

"Many questions remain, but this provides interesting data suggesting that altering the gut microbial flora may be promising for treating ," the authors noted.

Moayyedi added that the data suggests more research is needed using the FMT approach.

Explore further: Fecal transplants successful for treating C. difficile infection

Related Stories

Fecal transplants successful for treating C. difficile infection

March 30, 2015
Distasteful though it sounds, the transplantation of fecal matter is more successful for treating Clostridium difficile infections than previously thought.

Fecal transplant studied for kids with bowel disease

April 17, 2013
(HealthDay)—Fecal transplantation—an innovative enema treatment—may help reduce or eliminate symptoms of ulcerative colitis in most children and young adults, according to a small study.

Rapid and unexpected weight gain after fecal transplant

February 4, 2015
A woman successfully treated for a recurrent Clostridium difficile infection with stool from an overweight donor rapidly gained weight herself afterwards, becoming obese, according to a case report published in the new journal ...

New evidence supports success of fecal transplants in treatment of Clostridium difficile infection

April 9, 2015
Research published in the open access journal Microbiome offers new evidence for the success of fecal microbial transplantation (FMT) in treating severe Clostridium difficile infection (CDI), a growing problem worldwide that ...

Microbial restoration of the inflamed gut

September 30, 2013
A team led by gastroenterologists Sieglinde Angelberger and Walter Reinisch (Medical University Vienna) and microbiologists David Berry and Alexander Loy (University of Vienna) explored how a treatment called "fecal microbiota ...

Immune system promotes digestive health by fostering community of 'good' bacteria

January 22, 2015
As many as 1.4 million Americans suffer from uncomfortable abdominal cramping and diarrhea that come with ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. These conditions, collectively known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), are ...

Recommended for you

New approach to tracking how deadly 'superbugs' travel could slow their spread

November 22, 2017
Killer bacteria - ones that have out-evolved our best antibiotics—may not go away anytime soon. But a new approach to tracking their spread could eventually give us a fighting chance to keep their death toll down.

Research points to diagnostic test for top cause of liver transplant in kids

November 22, 2017
Biliary atresia is the most common cause of liver transplants for children in the United States. Now researchers report in Science Translational Medicine finding a strong biomarker candidate that could be used for earlier ...

Metabolites altered in chronic kidney disease

November 22, 2017
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) affects 1 in 7 people in the United States, according to the U.S. National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). These individuals have a very high risk of cardiovascular ...

Rainfall can indicate that mosquito-borne epidemics will occur weeks later

November 22, 2017
A new study demonstrates that outbreaks of mosquito-borne viruses Zika and Chikungunya generally occur about three weeks after heavy rainfall.Researchers also found that Chikungunya will predominate over Zika when both circulate ...

Alcohol consumption and metabolic factors act together to increase the risk of severe liver disease

November 22, 2017
A new study provides insights into the interaction between alcohol consumption and metabolic factors in predicting severe liver disease in the general population. The findings, which are published in Hepatology, indicate ...

Gastric acid suppressant lansoprazole may target tuberculosis

November 21, 2017
A cheap and widely used drug, used to treat conditions such as heartburn, gastritis and ulcers, could work against the bacteria that cause tuberculosis (TB), according to new research from UCL and the London School of Hygiene ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.