American Transplant Congress

American Transplant Congress

June 06, 2019
1 min read

Gut microbiota should be targeted as a strategy to prevent, treat viral infections in transplant recipients

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John Lee

BOSTON— Results from a study presented here confirmed the association between the gut microbiome and the development of viral infections from stem cell transplant recipients to solid organ graft recipients and reinforced the need to monitor the risk of infection closely.

“Recent studies suggest that the gut microbiome plays a critical role in protecting its host from infections beyond Clostridium difficile,” John Lee, MD, of the division of nephrology and hypertension at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, wrote in an abstract with infectious disease specialists from Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. “Notably, butyrate-producing bacteria may be beneficial to gut health and have recently been associated with lower rates of respiratory tract infections in bone marrow transplant recipients.

“In this study, we evaluated the relationship between butyrate-producing gut bacteria and future development of viral infections in kidney transplant recipients.”

The researchers reviewed stool samples collected 2 weeks after surgery from 115 kidney transplant recipients. The gut microbiome was profiled using 16S rRNA gene-deep sequencing of the V4-V5 hypervariable region, they reported in the abstract. Researchers then determined if having a low abundance of butyrate-producers (less than 1% relative abundance) was a risk factor for development of three common viral infections within the first 2 years after kidney transplantation: BK viremia, cytomegalovirus (CMV) viremia and respiratory tract (RV) infections.

Results showed patients with low abundance of butyrate-producers “had a significantly increased risk for developing RV infections than those with high abundance of butyrate-producers,” the authors wrote. Of the group, 23 patients developed RV infections; 22 developed BK viremia; 15 developed CMV viremia; and 50 developed at least one of the three viral infections.

“Our results confirm and extend the novel association between the gut microbiome and development of viral infections from stem cell transplant recipients to solid organ graft recipients,” Lee and colleagues wrote in the abstract. “Altogether, these findings support targeting the gut microbiota as a strategy to prevent and/or treat viral infections.”


Lee J, et al. Abstract #203. Presented at: Annual Transplant Congress; May 1-4, 2019; Boston.

Disclosures: Healio/Nephrology was unable to determine relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.