The gut microbiome and metabolome of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) differ from those of children without ASD, according to research results presented at the International Society of Autism Research 2019 Annual Meeting, held May 1-4, in Montreal, Canada. Chronic gastrointestinal (GI) issues are a significant comorbidity in ASD and such behavioral challenges as self-injury and aggression have been associated with GI symptoms.

Stool specimens were collected from pediatric participants with ASD (n=145), unaffected siblings (n=48), and unrelated typically developing children (n=219). Researchers obtained an extensive clinical history, as well as data from several behavioral surveys and a 2-week diary detailing diet, stooling pattern, and GI pain.

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Statistically significant differences (P <.05) were observed in the relative abundance of several organisms that were previously reported as associated with pediatric ASD, specific behavioral patterns, and overall severity. Unique microbial profiles were also associated with behavioral and dietary variables. Investigators reported that the greatest shifts in the gut microbiome were associated with GI pain, with distinct differences noted in the ASD group that reported pain.

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“Within ASD, subgroups can be identified based on complex phenotypes composed of behavioral characteristics, GI symptoms, and microbiome/metabolome profiles, and these multi-omic profiles will aid in identifying less communicative autistic individuals who may be experiencing GI pain as well as assist in the development of meaningful selection criteria for future microbially-mediated therapeutic interventions,” investigators concluded.


Luna RA, Savidge T, Goin-Kochel RP, et al. Gut feelings: linking gastrointestinal multi-omic profiles with complex phenotypes in pediatric autism spectrum disorder. Presented at: International Society of Autism Research 2019 Annual Meeting; May 1-4, 2019; Montreal, Canada.