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BaiCD gene cluster abundance is negatively correlated with Clostridium difficile infection

Solbach P, Chhatwal P, Woltemate S, Tacconelli E, Buhl M, Gerhard M, Thoeringer CK, Vehreschild MJGT, Jazmati N, Rupp J, Manns MP, Bachmann O, Suerbaum S

Background: Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) is a major cause of hospital-acquired diarrhea. Secondary bile acids were shown to confer resistance to colonization by C. difficile. 7α-dehydroxylation is a key step in transformation of primary to secondary bile acids and required genes have been located in a single bile acid-inducible (bai) operon in C. scindens as well as in C. hiranonis, two Clostridium sp. recently reported to protect against C. difficile colonization.

Aim: To analyze baiCD gene abundance in C. difficile positive and negative fecal samples.

Material & methods: A species-specific qPCR for detecting baiCD genes was established. Fecal samples of patients with CDI, asymptomatic toxigenic C. difficile colonization (TCD), non-toxigenic C. difficile colonization (NTCD), of C. difficile negative (NC) patients, and of two patients before and after fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) for recurrent CDI (rCDI) were tested for the presence of the baiCD genes.

Results: The prevalence of the baiCD gene cluster was significantly higher in C. difficile negative fecal samples than in samples of patients diagnosed with CDI (72.5% (100/138) vs. 35.9% (23/64; p<0.0001). No differences in baiCD gene cluster prevalence were seen between NC and NTCD or NC and TCD samples. Both rCDI patients were baiCD-negative at baseline, but one of the two patients turned positive after successful FMT from a baiCD-positive donor.

Conclusion: Fecal samples of CDI patients are less frequently baiCD-positive than samples from asymptomatic carriers or C. difficile-negative individuals. Furthermore, we present a case of baiCD positivity observed after successful FMT for rCDI.

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