Happy Gut, Happy Mouse?

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Science  24 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6169, pp. 352
DOI: 10.1126/science.343.6169.352-c

Growing evidence suggests a role for perturbations in the gut microbe balance (dysbiosis) and gastrointestinal (GI) complications in autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Altered microbial composition is observed in autistic individuals, and subsets of these patients exhibit improved symptoms with antibiotic treatment or when placed on restricted diets. A strong correlation has also been observed between GI status and autism severity. Recent animal studies have revealed that the gut microbiota modulate a variety of behaviors, including anxiety-like and emotional behaviors. Indeed, the microbiota affect neurotransmitter levels, brain gene expression, and vagal nerve activation. Dysbiosis may contribute to allergy, autoimmune disease, obesity, and inflammatory bowel disease. Hsiao et al. were able to ameliorate behavioral abnormalities in a mouse model of ASD by treating animals with the human gut bacterium Bacteriodes fragilis. The treatment restored intestinal barrier integrity, modulated serum metabolites, and helped with behavioral symptoms.

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