Faecal matter transplants potential to enrich gut in MS patients

Published 20 June 2022

Faecal matter transplants have been found to be safe and well-tolerated for people with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a new small study.

In recent years, the bacteria that live in the gut have come under investigation for their role in the development of neurological conditions such as MS. Studies have found altered gut microbiome in MS patients compared to that of healthy controls. Some researchers have suggested the altered bacteria may cause gut permeability, which could allow toxins to escape the gut and trigger the immune system to attack the body and exacerbate MS symptoms.

For the transplants, stool samples were taken from two healthy donors and transplanted to each patient via a rectal enema. The donors were screened for health conditions, as was their family history.

Nine patients took part. The study was due to enrol 40 participants, but this was affected by the sudden death of the chief researcher.

Six of the patients underwent six transplants, one had five transplants, and two others received two transplants.

There were no serious adverse side effects, although some people reported abdominal discomfort, nausea and vomiting. One patient experienced hives which resolved without treatment.

The results of the study showed that increased intestinal permeability fell to normal levels in two of the patients who had abnormal permeability before the treatment.

The researchers said the changes suggest faecal transplant may “exert clinically significant protective and preventative functional alterations to the MS microbiota.”

The findings showed that the process was a safe and tolerable intervention for these particular MS patients, with the potential to normalise intestinal permeability and cause beneficial alterations to gut bacteria, said the researchers. They noted that additional, larger studies were required.