Conference Coverage

Fecal transplantation suggests IBS efficacy in small, randomized studies



Fecal microbiome transplantation (FMT) showed evidence for significantly improving symptoms in some patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with predominant diarrhea in two small, independent, randomized controlled studies.

Dr, Tom Holvoet, Gent (Belgium) University Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Tom Holvoet

In the more positive of the two studies, patients with “bloating-predominant” IBS received a freshly prepared FMT from either a selected donor or from their own stool as a placebo control. After 12 weeks, the percentage of patients reporting clinically meaningful improvements in both abdominal bloating and in IBS symptoms was roughly twice as high, about 56%, among the 43 actively treated patients as the 26% rate of patients reporting these changes among 19 controls, Tom Holvoet, MD, said at the annual Digestive Disease Week.®Further follow-up of 22 patients who had significant improvement of their IBS symptoms at 12 weeks after treatment showed that, 1 year later, 6 of the 22 (27%) maintained their improved state while the other 73% of patients relapsed, suggesting that retreatment may be necessary for many, said Dr. Holvoet, a gastroenterologist at Ghent (Belgium) University. Five of the six patients who showed a prolonged response had received a donor FMT, while the sixth patient was from the control group that received a transplant of material prepared from the patient’s own stool.

“I think some patients would be willing to have multiple treatments,” Dr. Holvoet said in an interview. “These are highly motivated patients; you need to be highly motivated to undergo this treatment, and if they see an effect they’ll be motivated for retreatment,” he predicted.

The single-center study enrolled patients 18-75 years old with refractory IBS, based on the Rome III criteria, with intermittent diarrhea and severe bloating. Each patient received a single FMT. Patients in the active-treatment arm received their FMT from either of two donors selected for their “rich microbial diversity,” and demonstrated efficacy in an earlier pilot study with 12 patients (Gut. 2017 May;66[5]:980-2). In addition to a higher rate of improvement of abdominal bloating and IBS symptoms, the donor FMT also led to a significantly better improvement in IBS-related quality of life. Preliminary analysis of the intestinal microbiome profile of patients in the study suggested that specific changes to the microbiome were linked with treatment success.

Dr. Holvoet highlighted that more research is needed to identify ideal patients to treat this way, and to simplify and streamline the FMT process.

“Our study is a good first step, but we need to figure out what is happening in these patients,” Dr. Holvoet said in an interview.

Results from the second study failed to show a statistically significant benefit from FMT, compared with placebo, for the primary endpoint, but it did show benefit in one secondary endpoint.

Dr. Lawrence J. Brandt, professor of medicine and surgery, Albert Einstein Cllege of Medicine, New York Mitchel L. Zoler/MDedge News

Dr. Lawrence J. Brandt

This study enrolled 48 patients 19-65 years old with moderate to severe, diarrhea-predominant IBS, based on the Rome III definitions, at any of three U.S. centers. The researchers randomized patients to either immediate treatment for 3 days with an encapsulated, frozen fecal preparation obtained from the OpenBiome stool bank or placebo capsules. After 12 weeks, the average change from baseline in the IBS–Symptom Severity Score (SSS), the study’s primary endpoint, was virtually identical in both arms of the study. In both treatment groups the average baseline IBS-SSS was nearly 300, and in both treatment groups the SSS dropped sharply after 1 week into the study and then remained stable at this lower level in both groups during the next 11 weeks. Patients then underwent a second round of treatment in a crossover design. During a second 12 weeks of follow-up the average IBS-SSS remained steady among the patients who received placebo as their second treatment, but the patients who received active treatment as their second dose showed a further significant decline in their SSS, so that after the second 12-week follow-up the average score was 76 points lower in patients who recently had active treatment than those who recently received placebo, a statistically significant difference for this clinically meaningful point difference, reported Lawrence J. Brandt, MD, professor of medicine and surgery at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

In addition, the 12 patients in the study who had postinfection IBS showed the most dramatic reduction from baseline in their IBS-SSS 12 weeks after active treatment, compared with placebo. In contrast, 33 other patients in the study with noninfectious IBS etiologies showed on average no difference between active and placebo treatment in their 12-week change in SSS.

Preliminary findings in this study also showed some correlations between certain microbiome changes and better clinical responses to FMT, Dr. Brandt noted.

Dr. Holvoet and Dr. Brandt had no disclosures.

SOURCE: Holvoet T et al. DDW 2018. Presentation 617; Aroniadis OC et al. Presentation 742.

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