Potential Etiologic Factors of Microbiome Disruption in Autism

Clin Ther. 2015 May 1;37(5):976-83. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2015.04.001.


Purpose: The primary purpose of this article was to consider the candidate disruptors of the development of a healthy microbiome in patients with autism. The reported abnormalities in the microbiome of individuals with autism are discussed.

Methods: This selected review used data from published articles related to the assessment of microbiota in autism. Evidence-based support of factors known to affect the intestinal microbiome in individuals with autism are presented. Proposed interventions are evaluated and discussed.

Findings: Studies that have investigated the intestinal microbiome in patients with autism have reported significant differences versus unaffected controls. Increased clostridial species in autism have been reported in several studies. These differences may have resulted from a number of environmental factors. Microbiome alterations that might contribute to the development of autism include altered immune function and bacterial metabolites.

Implications: Efforts to modify microbial imbalances through a variety of interventions are addressed. Focusing on mechanisms that drive imbalances in the microbiome may affect the development of disease. Altered intestinal health may contribute to the development of autistic behaviors or autism itself. Interventions aimed at improving intestinal health may favorably affect the microbiome and autism.

Keywords: autism; intestinal microbiome; microbiota; pediatrics.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autistic Disorder / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Humans