Clostridium difficile infections (CDI) are the most severe form of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and incur ~$3.2 billion in health care costs annually and account for ~1% of hospitalizations in the U.S. The recent spread of hypervirulent C. difficile strains and increasing rates of relapse following treatment have increased the ante to address this problem. Past research has firmly established that susceptibility to CDI is a direct response to antibiotic-driven loss of colonization resistance imparted by a healthy intestinal microbiota. Several possible prophylactic treatments have been developed to mitigate CDI risk in people receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics, including the recent development of bile-salt analogs that are protective in CDI model systems.
Through generous funding provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and UNLV, we are working with a team of researchers led by Ernesto Abel-Santos to examine the effects of CDI prophylactics on the homeostasis of the gut microbiota and the interplay between host enterotype, antibiotic treatment, and CDI outcome.