New York—Transplant patients vulnerable to life-threatening bacterial infections are often treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, but those agents could disrupt the gut microbiome and raise the risk of complications from stem cell transplantation, according to a study published recently in Science Translational Medicine. For the study, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center researchers evaluated data from more than 850 transplant patients, as well as from mice. They found that selecting antibiotics that preserve “good” bacteria might help protect against graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), which occurs when transplanted donor cells recognize their new home as foreign and turn on the recipient. Results indicate that treatment with some broad-spectrum antibiotics, compared to antibiotics with more limited activity, correlated with greater risk of death from GVHD.

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