Multiple bacterial virulence factors focused on adherence and biofilm formation associate with outcomes in cirrhosis

Jasmohan S. Bajaj, Amirhossein Shamsaddini, Chathur Acharya, Andrew Fagan, Masoumeh Sikaroodi, Edith Gavis, Sara McGeorge, Alexander Khoruts, Michael Fuchs, Richard K. Sterling, Hannah Lee, Patrick M. Gillevet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Altered gut microbiota is associated with poor outcomes in cirrhosis, including infections and hepatic encephalopathy (HE). However, the role of bacterial virulence factors (VFs) is unclear. Aim: Define association of VFs with cirrhosis severity and infections, their linkage with outcomes, and impact of fecal microbiota transplant (FMT). Methods: VF abundances were determined using metagenomic analysis in stools from controls and cirrhosis patients (compensated, HE-only, ascites-only, both and infected). Patients were followed for 90-day hospitalizations and 1-year death. Stool samples collected before/after a placebo-controlled FMT trial were also analyzed. Bacterial species and VFs for all species and selected pathogens (Escherichia, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Streptococcus, and Enterococcus spp) were compared between groups. Multi-variable analyses were performed for clinical biomarkers and VFs for outcome prediction. Changes in VFs pre/post-FMT and post-FMT/placebo were analyzed. Results: We included 233 subjects (40 controls, 43 compensated, 30 HE-only, 20 ascites-only, 70 both, and 30 infected). Decompensated patients, especially those with infections, had higher VFs coding for siderophores, biofilms, and adhesion factors versus the rest. Biofilm and adhesion VFs from Enterobacteriaceae and Enterococcus spp associated with death and hospitalizations independent of clinical factors regardless of when all VFs or selected pathogens were analyzed. FMT was associated with reduced VF post-FMT versus pre-FMT and post-placebo groups. Conclusions: Virulence factors from multiple species focused on adhesion and biofilms increased with decompensation and infections, associated with death and hospitalizations independent of clinical factors, and were attenuated with FMT. Strategies focused on targeting multiple virulence factors could potentially impact outcomes in cirrhosis. Presentations: Portions of this manuscript were an oral presentation in the virtual International Liver Congress 2021 Abbreviations: VF: virulence factors, HE: hepatic encephalopathy, FMT: Fecal microbiota transplant, PPI: proton pump inhibitors, LPS: lipopolysaccharides, VFDB: Virulence factor database, OTU: operational taxonomic units, SBP: spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, UTI: urinary tract infections, MRSA: methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, VRE: vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus, MAAsLin2: Microbiome Multivariable Associations with Linear Models, LPS: lipopolysaccharides, AKI: acute kidney injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1993584
JournalGut microbes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s). Published with license by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Hospitalizations
  • death
  • enterococcus
  • fecal microbiota transplant
  • infections


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