Clostridioides difficile is a bacterium that is found in the intestines of humans and animals and in the environment. Certain strains of this organism can produce toxins that cause damage to the colon of humans resulting in diarrhea known as C. difficile infection or CDI. C. difficile is treatable with antibiotics, but patients can suffer debilitating recurrences. Clostridioides difficile forms hearty spores that are resistant to disinfection. It is found in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and nursing homes where antibiotic use is common, but it can also be diagnosed in patients who have not been in health care settings. The major risk for developing C. difficile infection is the prior use of antibiotics that disturb the normal intestinal suite of bacteria and allow C. difficile bacteria to overgrow and produce toxins. Keep reading to learn about risk factors associated with the development of C. difficile infection.

Use of Antibiotics

Antibiotic use is the most widely recognized risk for CDI. Patients with chronic diseases, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, are at greater risk of developing a C. difficile infection because they are more susceptible to the bacterium than healthy individuals due to their weakened immune systems. Diseases such as Crohn’s disease sometimes are treated with antibiotics; and when healthy compositions of intestinal bacteria are disrupted or depleted, C. difficile overgrows and can cause disease.

Recent Stay at a Hospital or Nursing Home

Patients recently admitted to a hospital or nursing home may be at a greater risk of exposure to C. difficile bacteria and are at higher risk of developing an infection. Additionally, if they received antibiotic treatment during their stay, they may be more susceptible to C. difficile than healthy individuals who have not been exposed to antibiotics even after they leave the hospital.

Advanced Age

The elderly are at a higher risk of contracting CDI and can develop severe CDI since their immune system is sometimes weaker and their gut bacteria may be less diverse than younger individuals. As the body ages, there is increased susceptibility to infection due to a weakening of the immune system’s ability to fight off infections.

Severe Comorbid Illnesses

Severe comorbid illnesses contribute to CDI risk and it may be due to the fact that ill patients may require more antibiotics and have more disruption of gut bacteria. In addition, one or more medical condition may lead to a diminished immune response to CDI.

Use of Proton Pump Antagonists (PPIs)

PPIs are medications used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). PPIs are increasingly being used in America, and they have been linked to an increased risk of developing a C. difficile infection. These medications decrease the production of stomach acid, an important host defense mechanism.

Key Takeaway

A C. difficile infection can be fatal without treatment. Recurrent infection is, unfortunately, common. Therefore, it is essential to take steps to prevent C. difficile infection by eating healthy foods, managing comorbid medical conditions, avoiding antibiotics when possible, and visiting your doctor regularly.

At Crestone, Inc., our team is focused on finding a better solution to treat C. diff infection. CRS3123 is a small molecule protein synthesis inhibitor that targets Clostridioides difficile by acting on the target methionyl-tRNA synthetase (MetRS). You can learn more about CRS3123 here, and if you suffer from C. difficile infection, you may be a candidate for our ongoing clinical study, 19-0021, which you can learn more about here