Researchers have identified a microbial signature for autism spectrum disorder, a critical finding that offers clarity about how the gut microbiome influences this neurological syndrome.
The data-driven study published by 43 researchers challenges the idea that autism is a primarily genetic condition and suggests that environmental factors may be behind the sharp rise in the debilitating condition.
The trillions of microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms) that populate the gut microbiome are the basis of that microbial signature. Other research has found that having more microbes and greater diversity is associated with health and lower disease risk. Among other tasks, gut bacteria metabolize fiber and create metabolites that facilitate digestion, brain functions, and more.
The study involved reanalyzing 25 previously published datasets to find autism-specific metabolic pathways that could be linked to particular gut microbes. Originated at the Simons Foundation’s Autism Research Initiative (SFARI), the meta-analysis was published on June 26 in Nature Neuroscience and aligns with a recent long-term study of microbiome-focused treatment on 18 people with autism who exhibited improvement in both gut and brain symptoms.
“It provides further evidence that the microbiome is altered in autism and that it relates to alterations in biochemistry and that those alterations can affect GI [gastrointestinal] and neurological functioning,” James Adams, professor at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Center for Health Through Microbiomes, told The Epoch Times. He’s been studying the gut–autism link for 20 years and is co-author of the study of 18 people highlighted in the new research….