Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor therapy has negligible effects on the cystic fibrosis gut microbiome

Ryan Marsh, Claudio Dos Santos, Liam Hanson, Christabella Ng, Giles Major, Alan R. Smyth, Damian Rivett*, Chris van der Gast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


People with cystic fibrosis (pwCF) experience a range of persistent gastrointestinal symptoms throughout life. There is evidence indicating interaction between the microbiota and gut pathophysiology in CF. However, there is a paucity of knowledge on the potential effects of CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapies on the gut microbiome. In a pilot study, we investigated the impact of Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor dual combination CFTR modulator therapy on the gut microbiota and metabolomic functioning in pwCF. Fecal samples from 12 pwCF taken at baseline and following placebo or Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor administration were subjected to microbiota sequencing and to targeted metabolomics to assess the short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) composition. Ten healthy matched controls were included as a comparison. Inflammatory calprotectin levels and patient symptoms were also investigated. No significant differences were observed in overall gut microbiota characteristics between any of the study stages, extended also across intestinal inflammation, gut symptoms, and SCFA-targeted metabolomics. However, microbiota and SCFA metabolomic compositions, in pwCF, were significantly different from controls in all study treatment stages. CFTR modulator therapy with Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor had negligible effects on both the gut microbiota and SCFA composition across the course of the study and did not alter toward compositions observed in healthy controls. Future longitudinal CFTR modulator studies will investigate more effective CFTR modulators and should use prolonged sampling periods, to determine whether longer-term changes occur in the CF gut microbiome. IMPORTANCE People with cystic fibrosis (pwCF) experience persistent gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms throughout life. The research question "how can we relieve gastrointestinal symptoms, such as stomach pain, bloating, and nausea?" remains a top priority for clinical research in CF. While CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) modulator therapies are understood to correct underlying issues of CF disease and increasing the numbers of pwCF are now receiving some form of CFTR modulator treatment. It is not known how these therapies affect the gut microbiome or GI system. In this pilot study, we investigated, for the first time, effects of the dual combination CFTR modulator medicine, Tezacaftor/Ivacaftor. We found it had negligible effects on patient GI symptoms, intestinal inflammation, or gut microbiome composition and functioning. Our findings are important as they fill important knowledge gaps on the relative effectiveness of these widely used treatments. We are now investigating triple combination CFTR modulators with prolonged sampling periods.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0117523
Number of pages14
JournalMicrobiology spectrum
Issue number5
Early online date21 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2023

Cite this