WASHINGTON — Fecal microbiota transplantation altered the gut microbiota of patients with irritable bowel syndrome, but it was not superior to placebo for improving symptoms in a study presented at Digestive Disease Week.
Bobby Lo, MD, of Hvidovre University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues wanted to investigate the potential of FMT as a treatment for IBS because the condition has been linked to intestinal dysbiosis.
“It’s been hypothesized that gut microbiota is partly the root for many diseases,” Lo said during his presentation.
In a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, Lo and colleagues analyzed data from 45 patients with moderate-to-severe IBS. They split the patients into two groups that received either FMT (n = 22) or placebo (n = 23) capsules for 12 days, and followed the patients for six months.
Lo said the FMT group had a higher biodiversity after treatment and closely resembled the biodiversity of the FMT donors, whereas the patients in the placebo group had a biodiversity that was indistinguishable from their pre-treatment state.
“These are really good results,” Lo said. “We’ve managed to change the biodiversity of these IBS patients even after six months.”
While patients in the FMT group showed symptom improvement throughout the study, researchers found that patients in the placebo group experienced greater symptom relief based on the IBS Symptom Severity Score, as well as in IBS quality of life data. There was also no difference among IBS subtype groups, Lo said.
Although the study showed that FMT did not help patients improve clinical symptoms of IBS, Lo said the results might have been affected by two key steps in pre-treatment. Both groups had to go through a bowel cleansing before the treatment, and the study used a mixed batch of fecal transplant taken from four healthy donors.
“Could the FMT have counteracted the positive effect of the bowel cleansing,” Lo theorized. “Did FMT reintroduce harmful microbes that were lost due to the bowel cleanse?”
Lo and colleagues believe that more research with different study designs are needed to further investigate the role of FMT in IBS.
Healio Gastroenterology and Liver Disease also reported on a similar study of FMT in IBS that was presented during the AGA Presidential Plenary at DDW. – by Alex Young
Halkjær S, et al. Abstract 914. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; June 2-5, 2018; Washington, D.C.
Lo reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the DDW faculty disclosure index for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.