Transkingdom interactions: elevated levels of fungi observed in Clostridium difficile infection

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Regina Lamendella (Juniata College, PA, USA) and her team have reported distinct fungal and bacterial species in patients with Clostridium difficile infections.

The report, which has been published in this week’s mSphere, analyzed 49 stool samples from hospital patients using high-throughput sequencing. They found 18 samples were Clostridium difficile infected and had an increased presence of two fungal and nine bacterial species, with further analyses revealing a higher abundance of fungi in these samples.

Results also showed the increases in specific fungal species were linked with decreased ‘helpful’ bacteria populations in Clostridium difficile infected patients. The bacterial gene expression analyses highlighted new pathways and interactions between genes known to be associated with Clostridium difficile infections. These pathways indicated that other bacteria, such as Escherichia coli, may play a role in dysbosis.

“The study suggests that patients with C. difficile infections host a mix of bacteria and fungi that’s specific to the disease, and could help it resist treatment,” commented lead author Regina Lamendella. “Where we’re headed next is to try to pin down the interaction between Clostridium difficile and specific fungi, as well as other organisms within the gut.”

Clostridium difficile infections are known to be difficult to treat due to the patient population already receiving antibiotics. Therefore, the further clarification regarding the relationship between fungal species and Clostridium difficile may aid the development of novel treatments.

Senior author David Stewart (University of Arizona College of Medicine, AZ, USA) concluded: “The fungi could be a therapeutic target. It would raise that possibility that we could repurpose already approved antifungal drugs to treat Clostridium difficile or other diseases.”

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Source: Stewart DB, Wright JR, Fowler M et al. Integrated meta-omics reveals a fungus-associated bacteriome and distinct functional pathways in Clostridioides difficile infection. mSphere. doi:10.1128/mSphere.00454-19 (2019); www.asm.org/Press-Releases/2019/August-1/Clostridium-difficile-Infections-May-have-a-Friend 

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