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Summary

Background

The intestinal microbiota is involved in the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has been used for the management of IBD as well as infectious diarrhoea.

Aim

To undertake a systematic review of FMT in patients with IBD.

Methods

The systematic review followed Cochrane and PRISMA recommendations. Nine electronic databases were searched in addition to hand searching and contacting experts. Inclusion criteria were reports (RCT, nonrandomised trials, case series and case reports) of FMT in patients with IBD.

Results

Of the 5320 articles identified, 17 fulfilled the inclusion criteria, none of which were controlled trials. There were nine case series/case reports of patients receiving FMT for management of their IBD, and eight where FMT was for the treatment of infectious diarrhoea in IBD. These 17 articles reported on 41 patients with IBD (27 UC, 12 Crohn's, 2 unclassified) with a follow-up period of between 2 weeks and 13 years. Where reported, FMT was administered via colonoscopy/enema (26/33) or via enteral tube (7/33). In patients treated for their IBD, the majority experienced a reduction of symptoms (19/25), cessation of IBD medications (13/17) and disease remission (15/24). There was resolution of C. difficile infection in all those treated for such (15/15).

Conclusions

Whilst the available evidence is limited and weak, it suggests that faecal microbiota transplantation has the potential to be an effective and safe treatment for IBD, at least when standard treatments have failed. Well-designed randomised controlled trials are required to investigate these findings.