Microbiome Resource Center

Microbiome Resource Center

August 04, 2021
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Gut microbiota underdeveloped in children with autism spectrum disorder

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Novel bacterial markers predicted autism spectrum disorder in children and showed persistent underdevelopment of the gut microbiota among these children, according to data published in Gut.

“The gut microbiota has been suggested to play a role in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). We postulate that children with ASD harbor an altered developmental profile of the gut microbiota distinct from that of typically developing (TD) children,” Yating Wan, PhD, from the Center for Gut Microbiota Research, Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, and colleagues wrote. “Here, we aimed to characterize compositional and functional alterations in gut microbiome in association with age in children with ASD and to identify novel fecal bacterial markers for predicting ASD.”

Novel biomarkers predicted autism spectrum disorder in children and showed persistent underdevelopment of  their gut microbiota. Source: Adobe Stock

Wan and colleagues conducted deep metagenomic sequencing in fecal samples of 146 Chinese children, 72 with autism spectrum disorder and 74 typically developing children. The researchers compared gut microbial composition and functions between children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children. They identified candidate bacteria markers that they validated with metagenomic analysis. Investigators used a random forest model to analyze gut microbiota development regarding chronological age.

“ASD and chronological age had the most significant and largest impacts on children’s fecal microbiome while diet showed no correlation,” the researchers wrote. “Children with ASD had significant alterations in fecal microbiome composition compared with TD children characterized by increased bacterial richness (P = .021) and altered microbiome composition (P < .05).”

According to Wan and colleagues, there were five bacterial species identified to differentiate gut microbes between children with autism spectrum disorder and typically developing children. The areas under the receiver operating curve (AUC) in the discovery cohort was 82.6% and 76.2% in the validation cohort.

“Multiple neurotransmitter biosynthesis related pathways in the gut microbiome were depleted in children with ASD compared with TD children (P < .05),” investigators wrote.

Wan and colleagues found children with autism spectrum disorder across the early-life age spectrum lost the developing dynamics of growth-associated gut bacteria seen in typically developing children.

The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.