Gut Microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): Exploring the Connection and Potential Therapeutic Avenues

Posted on:February 5, 2024
Last Updated: February 12, 2024
Time to read: 11–13 minutes

The intricate ecosystem within our gut, composed of trillions of microorganisms, plays a pivotal role in human health and disease. Recent scientific explorations have unearthed a significant link between the gut microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), offering new insights into the mysteries of this complex condition.

Children with ASD exhibit distinct gut microbiota profiles compared to neurotypically developed peers. This divergence in microbial populations is not merely a bystander effect; emerging evidence indicates that these microbial variations may contribute to the characteristic gastrointestinal and behavioural symptoms associated with ASD.

This article explores the latest findings on the gut microbiome’s role in ASD, evaluating the hypothesis of microbial imbalance as a physiological player and discussing the prospects of microbial-based therapies in ASD.

ASD is a heritable neurodevelopmental disorder with a strong genetic component, as evidenced by the discovery of subsets of ASD risk genes as well as rare and de novo mutations. [Geschwind et al. 2015] However, ASD has a broad range of phenotypes that are likely to be explained by complex gene-gene interactions and environment-gene interactions. [Kim and Leventhal 2015]

Current evidence suggests that prenatal and postnatal exposure to environmental factors such as toxins, medications, and nutritional factors contribute to the development of ASD. Furthermore, up to 50% of the variance in ASD liability has been suggested to be determined by these environmental factors, although it is unknown whether this represents an underlying causality. [Edelson and Saudino 2009]; [Gaugler et al 2014]; [Deng et al 2015]

Relevant Reading: 

  1. ADHD and Autism Comorbidity: A Comprehensive Review Based on Expert Consensus Recommendations and Latest Research Findings
  2. The Simplified Guide to the Gut-Brain Axis – How the Gut and The Brain Talk to Each Other
  3. Mother-Infant Relationship | Gut-Brain​ Axis By Professor Anne Buist