Skip to content

Human microbiota transplant transfers autism phenotype to mice.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated one in 59 people in the United States, causing adverse social communication and repetitive behavior. Many factors, including genetic and environmental effects, are believed to influence symptoms, however, there are no approved treatments. Now, a study from researchers led by Caltech shows that gut microbiota directly contributes to autism-like behavior in mice. The team states they successfully transplanted gut microbiota from human donors with ASD into germ-free mice, to show that colonization with ASD microbiota is sufficient to induce hallmark autistic behavior. The opensource study is published in the journal Cell.

Previous studies show the communities of microorganisms that inhabit the human gut are called the microbiota, and their collective genomes are known as the microbiome. These organisms live in a symbiotic state with humans, helping to digest food, affecting metabolism, and educating the host’s immune system. The current study examines the microbiota’s role in autism-like behavior in mice, using ‘germ-free’ mice, animals grown in the absence of microorganisms.

The current study transfers gut bacteria from children with autism into mice via fecal transplantation, and samples from people without autism were transplanted into other groups of animals. Results show the mice with microbiota from individuals with ASD exhibited autism-like behaviors, whereas the mice containing microbiota from control non-ASD individuals did not show these symptoms. Data findings show the ASD exhibiting mice spent less time socially interacting with other mice, vocalized less, and displayed repetitive behavior; these symptoms are known behavioral characteristics of people with ASD.

The lab observed, in addition to the behavioral differences, mice colonized with human ASD microbiota also showed altered gene expression in their brains and differences in the types of microbial metabolites, or products, present. The group state two metabolites, in particular, were found in lower amounts in the mice, namely, 5-aminovaleric acid (5AV) and taurine. They go on to explain that ASD has been characterized by an imbalance in the ratio of excitation and inhibition in the brain in certain cases and posit the lower amounts of 5AV and taurine are in line with this finding, as both affect certain inhibitory neural receptors called GABA receptors.

The team surmises their data suggest a mechanism of action involving the production of microbial metabolites in the gut which affect brain function and manifest atypical ASD behavior. For the future, researchers state these findings do not indicate that the gut microbes cause autism, and therefore additional studies are needed to address the impact of gut bacteria in humans.

Source: Caltech

 

Get Healthinnovations delivered to your inbox:

 

Healthinnovations View All

Michelle Petersen is the founder of Healthinnovations, having worked in the health and science industry for over 21 years, which includes tenure within the NHS and Oxford University. Healthinnovations is a publication that has reported on, influenced, and researched current and future innovations in health for the past decade.

Michelle has been picked up as an expert writer for Informa publisher’s Clinical Trials community, as well as being listed as a blog source by the world’s leading medical journals, including the acclaimed Nature-Springer journal series.

Healthinnovations is currently indexed by the trusted Altmetric and PlumX metrics systems, respectively, as a blog source for published research globally. Healthinnovations is also featured in the world-renowned BioPortfolio, BioPortfolio.com, the life science, pharmaceutical and healthcare portal.

Most recently the Texas A&M University covered The Top 10 Healthinnovations series on their site with distinguished Professor Stephen Maren calling the inclusion of himself and his team on the list a reflection of “the hard work and dedication of my students and trainees”.

Michelle Petersen’s copy was used in the highly successful marketing campaign for the mega-hit film ‘Jumanji: The Next Level, starring Jack Black, Karen Gilian, Kevin Hart and Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Michelle Petersen’s copywriting was part of the film’s coverage by the Republic TV network. Republic TV is the most-watched English language TV channel in India since its inception in 2017.

An avid campaigner in the fight against child sex abuse and trafficking, Michelle is a passionate humanist striving for a better quality of life for all humans by helping to provide traction for new technologies and techniques within healthcare.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.