Gut Bacteria Breakthroughs Offer Hope for Autism and GI Disorders

Scientists at the University of Utah Health discovered that specific gut bacteria can alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and social behavior deficits in mice with autism-like traits. The study identified beneficial microbes, including Blautia and Bacteroides uniformis, that could be used to develop novel therapies for autism and gut disorders.

author-image
Trim Correspondents
New Update
Gut Bacteria Breakthroughs Offer Hope for Autism and GI Disorders

Gut Bacteria Breakthroughs Offer Hope for Autism and GI Disorders

In a groundbreaking study, scientists at theUniversity of Utah Healthhave discovered that specific gut bacteria can alleviate gastrointestinal symptoms and social behavior deficits in mice, providing potential therapeutic targets for autism and gut disorders. The research, published in Nature Communications, sheds light on the complex connection between the gut microbiome and autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

Why this matters: This breakthrough could lead to the development of novel, microbiome-based therapies for autism and gut disorders, potentially improving the quality of life for millions of people worldwide. Moreover, it highlights the critical role of the gut microbiome in overall health, emphasizing the need for further research into its intricate connections with various diseases.

The study's key findings reveal thatgut discomfortin mice reduces social behaviors, a phenomenon that can be reversed by introducing specific bacteria. Modifying the gut microbiome can alleviate not only gastrointestinal symptoms but also behavioral changes. Importantly, the research identifies specific organisms within the human microbiota, including Blautia and Bacteroides uniformis, that can ameliorate a behavioral deficit associated with GI stress.

To conduct the study, the researchers induced colitis in mice and observed a reduction in social behaviors, even after GI symptoms had subsided. They collected stool samples from people with autism and their neurotypical family members and delivered the microbe-filled samples to the GI tracts of mice. By comparing the gut microbes from individuals with autism to those from their neurotypical family members, the team identified potentially protective microbes that might be underrepresented in people with autism.

June Round, Ph.D., a microbiologist at U of U Health, emphasized the therapeutic potential of the findings, stating,"I think that this is a really important step therapeutically because now we can start to assemble a therapy with organisms that we know to be safe. "Garrett Brown, Ph.D., a graduate student involved in the study, noted that the mice's reduced sociability was not solely due to pain, suggesting"maybe it is something specific to sociability and not just that the mice feel poorly."

The study's implications are far-reaching, paving the way for microbiome-targeted therapies for autism and gut disorders. Further research is needed to clarify whether boosting the numbers of Blautia or Bacteroides uniformis bacteria might benefit people with GI disorders, autism, or other conditions. The findings could lead to personalized microbiome-targeted therapies, where individuals can be quickly analyzed and provided with specific beneficial microbes to alleviate disease symptoms.

As Round emphasized, "This is an example where we are missing microbes and missing these beneficial microbes is driving disease." The groundbreaking research by the University of Utah Health scientists offers hope for those struggling with autism and gut disorders, providing a promising avenue for developing targeted, microbiome-based interventions that could significantly improve quality of life.