Donor bacteria coexist with a recipient’s own for three months after a fecal transplant
New research casts some light on what happens to a patient’s gut microbiome after a fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany, and their colleagues sequenced the DNA of bacterial strains in patients with metabolic syndrome who each received an FMT, finding that donor strains persisted in the recipients’ guts for up to three months following the procedure. In their paper, published today (April 28) in Science, the researchers also examined FMT donor-recipient compatibility.
“It was a well-done study,” Vincent Young, a professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan who was not involved in the work, told The Scientist. Previous studies have shown that certain species of donor bacteria persist after a FMT. What’s new here, Young said, “is the method they used to analyze metagenomics at the strain level.”
FMTs, in which stool microbes from a healthy donor are transplanted into a recipient, have been shown to be a successful treatment for recurrent Clostridium difficile infection, and are being investigated for a number of other gastrointestinal disorders. But the procedure is usually preceded by an antibiotic blitz, which wipes out any existing microbial communities in the recipient’s gut, making it difficult to assess a patient’s microbiome before and after FMT.