Genetic Disorders (JF Cubells and EB Binder, Section Editors)

Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:337

The Gut Microbiome: A New Frontier in Autism Research

  • Jennifer G. MulleAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology, Emory University Rollins School of Public HealthDepartment of Human Genetics, Emory University School of Medicine Email author 
  • , William G. SharpAffiliated withDepartment of Pediatrics, Emory University School of MedicineMarcus Autism Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
  • , Joseph F. CubellsAffiliated withDepartment of Human Genetics, Emory University School of MedicineEmory Autism Center, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine

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Abstract

The human gut harbors a complex community of microbes that profoundly influence many aspects of growth and development, including development of the nervous system. Advances in high-throughput DNA sequencing methods have led to rapidly expanding knowledge about this gut microbiome. Here, we review fundamental emerging data on the human gut microbiome, with a focus on potential interactions between the microbiome and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and consider research on atypical patterns of feeding and nutrition in ASD and how they might interact with the microbiome. Finally we selectively survey results from studies in rodents on the impact of the microbiome on neurobehavioral development. The evidence reviewed here suggests that a deeper understanding of the gut microbiome could open up new avenues of research on ASD, including potential novel treatment strategies.

Keywords

Gut microbiome Nervous system Behavior Autism Autism spectrum disorders ASDs Feeding Nutrition Dietary intake Animal studies Neurobehavioral development Genetic disorders Psychiatry