Skip to main content

Posted by Solana Pinilla – 21/12/2023

Scientists have achieved a major breakthrough in understanding autism by establishing a “definitive association” between gut bacteria and ASD. In a comprehensive reassessment study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers used advanced technology to unravel the complex relationship between the gut microbiome and ASD.

The potential connection between autism and the microbiome first emerged decades ago when parents noticed changes in their autistic children’s behavior after taking antibiotics that affected gut bacteria.

The Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI) took action to resolve the confusion and hired Dr. Gaspar Taroncher-Oldenburg and Dr. Jamie Morton to lead a fresh investigation using computational methods.

The groundbreaking study demonstrated connections between the gut microbiome and various immune genes, diet, and neurological pathways involved in brain signaling. The association was affirmed, indicating a real link between the microbiome and autism, though further research is needed to understand the mechanics fully.

Interestingly, the study showed a surprising overlap between the microbes associated with autism and those identified in a previous long-term faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) study, suggesting potential benefits in treating autism symptoms through microbiota transfer therapy.


Crédito: DrAfter123/iStock
 

However, the study does not prove that the microbiome causes autism; it merely establishes a statistical correlation. The team refrained from listing specific microbes, focusing instead on the genes they contain and the functions they perform, as these could be the critical factors.

The study opens the door for the development of future research, which could lead to advances and new alternatives in therapies and treatments used to treat people with autism, creating hope for families and individuals affected by ASD around the world.