Weight Gain After Fecal Transplant

sharma-obesity-gut-buts1Regular readers will be well aware of the emerging science of the human microbiome, suggesting that the several pounds of bacteria that live in our gut may well play an important role in the development of obesity and other metabolic diseases.

Readers may also have heard of the use of fecal transplants, i.e. the transfer of stool samples from a healthy donor, to treat patients suffering from a severe form of diarrhoea caused by Clostridium difficile.

Now an interesting report by Neha Alang and Colleen Kelly from Providence, Rhode Island, published in Open Forum Infectious Diseases, describes a case of remarkable weight gain in a non-obese woman following the successful treatment of her Clostridium difficile infection with a fecal transplant from her overweight daughter.

Prior to undergoing the fecal transplant in 2011, the 32 year old patient, who had always been of normal weight, was weight stable at 136 pounds (BMI 26).

Her stool “donor” was her overweight but otherwise healthy teenage daughter.

Sixteen months after fully recovering from her C. diff infection, the patient weighed 170 pounds (BMI 33).

Despite continuing efforts to lose weight with diet and exercise, she now weighs 177 pounds (BMI 34.5).

Despite these remarkable development, it is important not to jump to conclusions.

Not only is this just a single case report, but the authors also discuss other possible explanations including treatment with antibiotics for Helicobacter pylori infection and the stress related to illness.

Nevertheless, given that the patient had never been overweight before, and we do have an increasing number of studies suggesting that the bacteriome may indeed play a role in obesity, this report should give some food for thought.

If nothing else, it may be prudent to avoid overweight or obese donors when considering stool transplants for C. diff infections.

Edmonton, AB