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Original research
Microbial determinants of effective donors in faecal microbiota transplantation for UC


Objective Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) has variable efficacy in treating UC. Recently, oral lyophilised FMT was found to induce remission in patients with UC, with one donor having 100% efficacy compared with a second donor (36% efficacy). We characterised differences in the gut microbiota of these two donors with the aim of improving FMT donor selection.

Design Faecal samples from the two donors were collected over a period of 44 (donor 1) or 70 (donor 2) weeks. The microbiome and metabolome were profiled using shotgun metagenomics and untargeted metabolomics

Results Gut microbiome long-term stability was highly evident in the effective donor. Donor microbiota species evenness was a robust feature associated with clinical efficacy across two clinical trials of FMT in UC, leading to increased donor species engraftment in patients. Alpha diversity and beta diversity of donor gut microbiotas significantly differed. 90 bacterial species and one archaeon were differentially abundant between donors, 44 of which were >0.1% in relative abundance. 17/44 species were enriched in the effective donor, 11 of which (64.7%) were assembled into high-quality genomes that were prevalent (≥75% samples) in that donor, and six showed evidence of engraftment in patients. Taxonomic differences between donors translated to substantial microbial functional differences that were validated using metabolomics.

Conclusion Donor microbiota stability and species evenness were identified as novel metrics that were associated with therapeutic efficacy in UC, beyond individual microbial species or metabolites. These metrics may represent community resilience that translates to better engraftment in the host.

Trial registration number ACTRN12619000611123.

  • IBD

Data availability statement

Data are available in a public, open access repository. The raw shotgun metagenomics reads, and the associated metagenomic-assembled genomes were submitted to the European Nucleotide Archive (ENA) under the accession PRJEB50699. 16S rRNA gene amplicon reads are publicly available in ENA under the accession PRJEB48134.

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