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Front Microbiol. 2018 Dec 19;9:3146. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03146. eCollection 2018.

Gut Microbiota Features in Young Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Author information

1
Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
2
Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Malta, Msida, Malta.
3
Task Force on Microbiome Studies, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
4
Department of Translational Medical Science - Pediatric Section, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
5
CEINGE Advanced Biotechnologies, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
6
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Productions, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
7
Department of Pharmacy, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.
8
Istituto di Endocrinologia ed Oncologia Sperimantale, Naples, Italy.
9
European Laboratory for the Investigation of Food-Induced Diseases, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Abstract

Proliferation and/or depletion of clusters of specific bacteria regulate intestinal functions and may interfere with neuro-immune communication and behavior in patients with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Consistently, qualitative and quantitative alteration of bacterial metabolites may functionally affect ASD pathophysiology. Up to date, age-restricted cohort studies, that may potentially help to identify specific microbial signatures in ASD, are lacking. We investigated the gut microbiota (GM) structure and fecal short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) levels in a cohort of young children (2-4 years of age) with ASD, with respect to age-matched neurotypical healthy controls. Strong increase of Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria and decrease of Actinobacteria was observed in these patients. Among the 91 OTUs whose relative abundance was altered in ASD patients, we observed a striking depletion of Bifidobacterium longum, one of the dominant bacteria in infant GM and, conversely, an increase of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, a late colonizer of healthy human gut and a major butyrate producer. High levels of F. prausnitzii were associated to increase of fecal butyrate levels within normal range, and over representation of KEGG functions related to butyrate production in ASD patients. Here we report unbalance of GM structure with a shift in colonization by gut beneficial bacterial species in ASD patients as off early childhood.

KEYWORDS:

ASD; Bifidobacterium longum; Faecalibacterium prausnitzii; butyrate; gut microbiome; propionate; short chain fatty acids

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