Clinical pilot study: Efficacy of triple antibiotic therapy in Blastocystis positive irritable bowel syndrome patients

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Background: Blastocystis species are common human enteric parasites. Carriage has been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Treatment of Blastocystis spp. with antimicrobials is problematic and insensitive diagnostic methods and re-infection complicate assessment of eradication. We investigated whether triple antibiotic therapy comprising diloxanide furoate, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole and secnidazole (TAB) given to diarrhoea-predominant IBS (D-IBS) patients positive for Blastocystis would achieve eradication. Methods: In a longitudinal, prospective case study 10 D-IBS Blastocystis-positive patients took 14 days of diloxanide furoate 500 mg thrice daily, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole 160/80 mg twice daily and secnidazole 400 mg thrice daily. Faecal specimens were collected at baseline, day 15 and 4 weeks after completion of TAB. Specimens were analysed using faecal smear, culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) of the 16 SSU rRNA. Patients kept a concurrent clinical diary. Results: Six (60%) patients cleared Blastocystis spp. after TAB, including three who had failed previous therapy. Subtypes detected were ST3 (60%), ST4 (40%), ST1 (20%) and ST7, 8 (10%); four patients had mixed ST infections. Serum immunoglobulin A (IgA) levels were low in 40% of patients. Higher rates of Blastocystis clearance were observed in patients symptomatic for less than a year (Mann-Whitney, p = 0.032, 95% confidence) with no associations found with age, previous antibiotic therapy, faecal parasite load, ST, IgA level or clinical improvement. Conclusions: Clearance of Blastocystis spp. was achieved with TAB in 60% of D-IBS patients, an improvement over conventional monotherapy. Higher clearance rates are needed to facilitate investigation of the relevance of this parasite in clinically heterogenous IBS.




Nagel, R., Bielefeldt-Ohmann, H., & Traub, R. (2014). Clinical pilot study: Efficacy of triple antibiotic therapy in Blastocystis positive irritable bowel syndrome patients. Gut Pathogens, 6(1).

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