Gastrointestinal (GI) disorders are now widely recognized as a clinical symptom of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and research into the microbiome-gut-brain axis is beginning to reveal the interconnectivity between GI pain and potential behavioral challenges. Emerging data on the gut microbiome in ASD has also suggested that altered host-microbe interactions may contribute to disease symptoms. Here, we will discuss the history of the relationship between the microbiome and ASD, including more recent publications that have identified distinct microbiome-neuroimmune signatures in ASD as well as demonstrated the potential efficacy of fecal microbiota transplantation. While in-depth studies of the gut microbiome in ASD that are underway will generate the critical mass of data needed as a comparison dataset, a case study will be presented to illustrate the benefit of longitudinal sampling of a single patient in parallel with collection of clinical metadata (behavioral, gastrointestinal, and dietary).
Learning Objective 1: Explain the potential role of the gut-brain axis in ASD
Learning Objective 2: Describe how changes in the microbiome correlate with changes in behavior
Learning Objective 3: Identify diagnostic and therapeutic potential of microbiome characterization and microbial manipulation