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Fecal microbiota transplantation for Clostridium difficile infection: benefits and barriers

Lo Vecchio, Andreaa; Cohen, Mitchell B.b

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: January 2014 - Volume 30 - Issue 1 - p 47–53
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000023

Purpose of review The incidence and severity of Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) have increased worldwide in the past two decades. A principal function of the gut microbiota is to protect the intestine against colonization by exogenous pathogens. Increasingly, the gut microbiota have been shown to influence susceptibility to other genetic and environmentally acquired conditions. Transplantation of healthy donor fecal material in patients with CDI may re-establish the normal composition of the gut microbiota and has been shown to be effective in recurrent CDI. We intend to review the most recent data on fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) and critically discuss potential advantages and handicaps of this new therapeutic approach.

Recent findings Evidence from case series and only one randomized clinical trial suggests that FMT is able to restore the wide diversity of microflora, improve C. difficile-related symptoms and prevent CDI recurrence.

Summary FMT is a promising treatment option for serious and recurrent CDI, and current evidence (although weak) demonstrates consistent and excellent efficacy in clinical outcomes. However, many questions should be answered before it may be recommended as routine standard treatment. Mechanisms of action need to be better understood. Long-term follow-up studies are needed to determine long-lasting effects (including the association with autoimmune diseases).

aSection of Pediatrics, Department of Translational Medical Science, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

bGastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Correspondence to Andrea Lo Vecchio, Section of Pediatrics, Department of Translational Medical Science, University of Naples Federico II, Via Pasini 5, 80131 Naples, Italy. Tel/. fax: +39 081 7464232; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins