The case of a normal-weight woman who rapidly became obese after receiving a fecal transplant from an overweight relative has raised new concern over the screening of donated stool.
The patient, who underwent the novel procedure to treat a recurring bacterial infection in her intestines, has gained more than 40 pounds since the transplant and continues to gain weight, according to a case report published Wednesday in the journal Open Forum Infectious Diseases.
The patient has been unable to shed the unwanted weight through diet or exercise, according to her doctors.
“This case serves as a note of caution when considering the use of non-ideal donors for fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), and we recommend selecting non-overweight donors,” wrote the paper’s authors, Dr. Neha Alang, an internist at Rhode Island’s Newport Hospital; and Dr. Colleen Kelly, a gastroenterologist at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.
It remains unclear exactly what caused the dramatic weight gain. However, the physicians note that studies conducted on mice show that lean mice can become fatter if they receive fecal microbes from overweight mice.
“We’re questioning whether there was something in the fecal transplant, where some of those ‘good’ bacteria we transferred may have had an impact on her metabolism in a negative way,” Kelly said in a prepared statement.
Viewed for many years as a fringe medical treatment with a high “snicker factor,” fecal transplants have recently shown promise in fighting Clostridium difficile infections.
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