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article imageNew link between gut bacteria and autism

By Tim Sandle     Dec 16, 2013 in Health
In a new study, scientists dosed mice modeling autism with a human gut bacterium. The dose reversed some disorder-associated behaviors in the animals.
Back in July 2013 the Digital Journal reported that some research suggested that the bacteria that reside in the human gut influence children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This is related to stomach conditions in children who go onto show signs of autism. A new study shows how the composition of the gut flora can affect the signs and symptoms of autism.
Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and verbal and non-verbal communication, and by restricted, repetitive or stereotyped behavior. Autism is defined as a spectrum disorder, due to the broad range of symptoms involved and the influence of both genetic and environmental factors.
The new study indicates that mice exhibiting autism-like behaviors displayed a reduction in their symptoms when treated with a human gut microbe (called Bacteroides fragilis). Furthermore, the bacterium also eased the mice’s gastrointestinal problems, which had previously linked to autism in humans.
Commenting on the findings, John Cryan, a pharmacologist at University College Cork in Ireland, told Nature: "It’s incredible that putting this one bacteria back can reverse all these widespread changes."
The new study has been reported in the journal Cell. The paper is titled "Microbiota Modulate Behavioral and Physiological Abnormalities Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders."
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