Malkki H (2013) Nat Rev Neurol. 2013 Dec 24. doi: 10.1038/nrneurol.2013.267
This editorial provides a comment on the following paper:
Some of the core behavioural alterations in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be corrected by probiotic bacteria that ameliorate ASD-associated gastrointestinal (GI) dysfunction, a new study in mice suggests.
For the study, published in Cell, Elaine Hsiao and colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA, USA) used the maternal immune activation (MIA) mouse model of ASD to assess the role of the gut–brain axis in ASD.
Besides increased anxiety, stereotypical behaviour, altered sensorimotor gating, and impaired social interaction and communication—behavioural symptoms typical of ASD—the MIA offspring showed altered gut microbiota, increased gut permeability and elevated microbiota-related serum metabolites.
These findings are in line with studies that report a subset of individuals with ASD experience GI problems.
“Our findings reveal that certain beneficial gut bacteria may influence behaviours relevant to neurodevelopmental disorders, and raise the exciting prospect that probiotics could be a safe and effective treatment for some cases of autism,” Hsiao contends.