Potential Determinants of Gastrointestinal Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorders

  • Anya E. ShindlerEmail author
  • Elisa L. Hill-Yardin
  • Steve Petrovski
  • Anne C. Cunningham
  • Naomi Bishop
  • Ashley E. Franks
Review Paper


Gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction is a common comorbidity of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and is associated with increased severity of characteristic autism-associated symptoms. However, the underlying biological mechanisms for GI dysfunction symptoms in children with ASD are unknown. This review explores potential explanations for these symptoms including altered enteric microbiota, impaired intestinal permeability, changes in immune homeostasis, and genetic factors such as single nucleotide polymorphisms. It was shown that genetic factors not only influence the development of altered enteric microbiota and impaired intestinal permeability, but also are a strong, independent contributor to GI dysfunction in ASD patients.


Autism spectrum disorder Gastrointestinal dysfunction Genetics Microbiota Intestinal permeability Immune system 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Microbiology, School of Life SciencesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health and Biomedical SciencesRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.PAPRSB Institute of Health SciencesUniversiti Brunei DarussalamBandar Seri BegawanBrunei
  4. 4.Centre for Future LandscapesLa Trobe UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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