A recent study published in Cell Host & Microbe suggests that fecal metabolite profiling could be a valuable tool for predicting postoperative infections in patients who have undergone liver transplants. The study involved quantifying fecal metabolites for over 100 liver transplant patients and correlating them with the patients’ fecal microbiome compositions and postoperative infections. The findings revealed that reduced levels of certain fatty acids, bile acids, and tryptophan metabolites were associated with dysbiosis of the microbiome and a higher risk of postoperative infection.
Infections are a major complication of liver transplantation, and the use of anti-rejection medications further increases the risk. The study highlights the importance of understanding the role of the microbiome in this process. Christopher Lehmann, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, commented on the growing problem of antibiotic resistance and emphasized the need to explore how the human microbiome can fight drug-resistant infections. The study also demonstrated that metabolites produced by the intestinal microbiome play a crucial role in modulating immune defenses and optimizing barrier function.
The researchers of the study performed a surveillance study on liver transplant recipients at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Through analyzing fecal metabolite concentrations, they were able to identify patients with preserved microbiome diversity, reduced colonization of harmful bacteria, and lower rates of postoperative infection. Interestingly, the metabolites alone showed the same predictive value as sequencing the genomes of specific bacterial species. This indicates that fecal metabolite profiling could provide a quicker alternative to identify at-risk patients and suggests the potential for correcting microbiomes based on these findings.