The Gut Microbiome: A New Frontier in Autism Research
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.
KeywordsGut microbiome Nervous system Behavior Autism Autism spectrum disorders ASDs Feeding Nutrition Dietary intake Animal studies Neurobehavioral development Genetic disorders Psychiatry
J. G. Mulle: research support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and consultant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; W. G. Sharp: research support from the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Trust Pilot Award; J. F. Cubells: research support from NIH, Roche, Seaside Therapeutics, and Biomarin and consultant to Abbott Laboratories, Novartis, Barnes and Thornberg, LLP, and the University of Nebraska.
Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance
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