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Diagnostics Microbiology and immunology

A Gut (Microbiome) Feeling

To identify novel fecal biomarkers for predicting autism spectrum disorder (ASD), researchers have investigated the distinct features of the gut microbiota in children with ASD and in typically developing children (1). They found that ASD and chronological age were significantly associated with characteristic microbiome changes independent of diet. These changes included increased bacterial richness and alterations in microbiome composition in children with ASD. Five bacterial species and a depletion of neurotransmitter biosynthesis-related pathways in the gut microbiome were also found in children with ASD, but not in the typically developing group.

Though the study was small (and the gut microbiome also varies geographically), the researchers’ findings demonstrate marked differences, including underdevelopment, in the gut microbiota in children with ASD compared to age-matched peers – and may pave the way for better prediction and treatment of the disorder.

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  1. Y Wan et al., Gut, [Online ahead of print] (2021). PMID: 34312160.

About the Author

Olivia Gaskill

During my undergraduate degree in psychology and Master’s in neuroimaging for clinical and cognitive neuroscience, I realized the tasks my classmates found tedious – writing essays, editing, proofreading – were the ones that gave me the greatest satisfaction. I quickly gathered that rambling on about science in the bar wasn’t exactly riveting for my non-scientist friends, so my thoughts turned to a career in science writing. At Texere, I get to craft science into stories, interact with international experts, and engage with readers who love science just as much as I do.

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