Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is the term for a group of neurodevelopmental disorders. Researchers are yet to fully understand the causes of ASD.
GS II: Health
Dimensions of the Article:
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Exploring the Connection between Gut Microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
- Ongoing Research on the Gut Microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) refers to a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that impact social interaction, communication skills, and behavior.
- Researchers have yet to fully understand the causes of ASD, but a disorder in the gut-brain axis may have a prominent role.
Prevalence and Characteristics of ASD
- According to the WHO, ASD affects one in 100 children, and it can have a significant impact on cognitive abilities and quality of life.
- Children with ASD may exhibit impaired social interactions, lack of verbal and nonverbal communication skills, and restricted and repetitive behaviors.
Gastrointestinal Problems Associated with ASD
- Some children with ASD experience gastrointestinal problems, such as constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, and bloating, among others.
- Limited research findings and anecdotal evidence suggest that there is a link between gastrointestinal problems and ASD, but this area remains relatively under-researched.
Pathophysiology and Current Treatment for ASD
- Although several theories have been proposed to explain the aetiology of ASD, the pathophysiology of the disorder remains largely unknown.
- There are currently no known cures or therapeutic interventions available to treat or reverse ASD, highlighting the need for continued research in this area.
- Aetiology is the study of factors that cause a condition or disease.
- Pathophysiology is the study of a condition’s impact on biological processes.
Exploring the Connection between Gut Microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
The Impact of Gut Microbiome on Human Health
- Advances in gene-sequencing technologies and bioinformatic analysis have helped researchers to explore the connections between human health, diseases, and microbiomes.
- The gut microbiome has been found to have a significant impact on immune modulation and metabolic activities in the human body.
Potential Connections between Gut Microbiome and ASD Symptoms
- Investigating the dynamic cross-talk between the gut microbiome and the host environment has revealed potential connections to ASD symptoms.
- Aberrant antigen trafficking through an impaired intestinal barrier could allow antigens to pass through the barrier surrounding the brain, triggering a chain of events that worsen ASD symptoms.
The Role of Gut Microbiome in the Pathophysiology of ASD
- Some scientists have disputed the significance of the gut microbiome in the pathophysiology of ASD, arguing that it cannot cause ASD.
- However, research has shown that abnormalities in the gut microbiome can challenge a person with toxic metabolites, hindering the synthesis of neurotransmitters involved in cognition, behavior, mood, and sleep.
- Fixing the gut microbiome in ASD can reduce the toxic burden and/or help complete necessary neurotransmitter synthesis pathways, potentially improving symptoms.
Ongoing Research on the Gut Microbiome and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Dysbiosis in the Gut Microbiome of Children with ASD
- In their research, the authors have explored the gut microbiome in children with and without ASD and have reported several interesting microbial biomarkers in children with ASD.
- Dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiome, was observed in children with ASD. They had a higher abundance of lactobacillaceae, bifidobacteriaceae, and veillonellaceae bacteria, and the fraction of bacteria of the phylum firmicutes was found to be significantly higher in their guts.
Short-Chain Fatty Acids and the Gut-Brain Axis
- The authors found an underrepresentation of certain microbes that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) in children with ASD, such as faecalibacterium and roseburia.
- This supports the hypothesis that a lower level of SCFAs in ASD could lead to an imbalance in brain function and behavior.
- Some proposals suggest introducing these strains of bacteria as a probiotic for children with ASD to help alleviate common gastrointestinal problems and positively influence cognitive and behavioral functions.
Emerging Areas of Study and Future Consensus
- Since these are emerging areas of study, there are pockets of agreement as well as disagreement in the scientific community.
- The consensus on the role of the gut microbiome in ASD lies in the future as further research is conducted.
-Source: The Hindu