Objective IBS is associated with an intestinal dysbiosis and faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has been hypothesised to have a positive effect in patients with IBS. We performed a randomised, double-blind placebo-controlled trial to investigate if FMT resulted in an altered gut microbiota and improvement in clinical outcome in patients with IBS.
Design We performed this study in 52 adult patients with moderate-to-severe IBS. At the screening visit, clinical history and symptoms were assessed and faecal samples were collected. Patients were randomised to FMT or placebo capsules for 12 days and followed for 6 months. Study visits were performed at baseline, 1, 3 and 6 months, where patients were asked to register their symptoms using the IBS-severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) and IBS-specific quality of life (IBS-QoL). Prior to each visit, faecal samples were collected.
Results A significant difference in improvement in IBS-SSS score was observed 3 months after treatment (p=0.012) favouring placebo. This was similar for IBS-QoL data after 3 months (p=0.003) favouring placebo. Patients receiving FMT capsules had an increase in faecal microbial biodiversity while placebos did not.
Conclusion In this randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled study, we found that FMT changed gut microbiota in patients with IBS. But patients in the placebo group experienced greater symptom relief compared with the FMT group after 3 months. Altering the gut microbiota is not enough to obtain clinical improvement in IBS. However, different study designs and larger studies are required to examine the role of FMT in IBS.
Trial registration number NCT02788071.