Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 57, Issue 8, pp 2096–2102

Elevated Fecal Short Chain Fatty Acid and Ammonia Concentrations in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Authors

  • Lv Wang
    • Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South Australia
  • Claus Thagaard Christophersen
    • Preventative Health National Research FlagshipCSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences
  • Michael Joseph Sorich
    • Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South Australia
  • Jacobus Petrus Gerber
    • Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South Australia
    • Sansom Institute for Health ResearchUniversity of South Australia
  • Michael Allan Conlon
    • Preventative Health National Research FlagshipCSIRO Food and Nutritional Sciences
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10620-012-2167-7

Cite this article as:
Wang, L., Christophersen, C.T., Sorich, M.J. et al. Dig Dis Sci (2012) 57: 2096. doi:10.1007/s10620-012-2167-7

Abstract

Background and Aim

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder where a high frequency of gastrointestinal disturbance (e.g., constipation and diarrhea) is reported. As large bowel fermentation products can have beneficial or detrimental effects on health, these were measured in feces of children with and without ASD to examine whether there is an underlying disturbance in fermentation processes in the disorder.

Methods

Fecal samples (48 h) were collected from children with ASD (n = 23), and without ASD (n = 31) of similar age. Concentrations of short chain fatty acids, phenols and ammonia were measured.

Results

Fecal total short chain fatty acid concentrations were significantly higher in children with ASD compared to controls (136.6 ± 8.7 vs. 111.1 ± 6.6 mmol/kg). Moreover, when concentrations of fecal acetic, butyric, isobutyric, valeric, isovaleric and caproic acids were measured, all were significantly higher in children with ASD compared with controls except for caproic acid. The concentration of fecal ammonia was also significantly greater in ASD participants than controls (42.7 ± 3.3 vs. 32.3 ± 1.9 mmol/kg). Fecal phenol levels and pH did not differ between groups. Macronutrient intake, as determined from dietary records kept by caregivers, also did not differ significantly between study groups.

Conclusions

Our results suggest fermentation processes or utilization of fermentation products may be altered in children with ASD compared to children without ASD.

Keywords

Autism spectrum disorderShort chain fatty acidsPhenolsAmmonia

Supplementary material

10620_2012_2167_MOESM1_ESM.doc (242 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 241 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012