According to this new research, treatment with a certain human gut microbe, Bacteroides fragilis, alleviated ASD-like behaviours and eased accompanying gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in a mouse model of autism.
“Traditional research has studied autism as a genetic disorder and a disorder of the brain, but our work shows that gut bacteria may contribute to ASD-like symptoms in ways that were previously unappreciated,” study investigator Sarkis K. Mazmanian, PhD, said in a statement.
For the study, the investigators explored gut-microbiome-brain interactions in ASD in animal model. Research discovered that offspring of animal models had defects in intestinal integrity similar to those reported in some individuals with ASD.
They also found that oral treatment of in the animal model was effective in treating symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis. That same treatment also corrected intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’, thereby reducing the levels of behaviour-altering microbes that find their way into the metabolic system. In the current study, research colleagues propose that autism, and likely other behavioral conditions, are potentially diseases involving the gut that ultimately impact the immune, metabolic, and nervous systems and that microbiome-mediated therapies may be a safe and effective treatment for these neurodevelopmental disorders.
This report is the first known report of an animal research model for autism that took gastrointestinal dysfunction into account. Published Dec 2013.