Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a series of neurodevelopmental disorders that are characterized by deficits in both social and cognitive functions. Although the exact etiology and pathology of ASD remain unclear, a disorder of the microbiota-gut-brain axis is emerging as a prominent factor in the generation of autistic behaviors. Clinical studies have shown that gastrointestinal symptoms and compositional changes in the gut microbiota frequently accompany cerebral disorders in patients with ASD. A disturbance in the gut microbiota, which is usually induced by a bacterial infection or chronic antibiotic exposure, has been implicated as a potential contributor to ASD. The bidirectional microbiota-gut-brain axis acts mainly through neuroendocrine, neuroimmune, and autonomic nervous mechanisms. Application of modulators of the microbiota-gut-brain axis, such as probiotics, helminthes and certain special diets, may be a promising strategy for the treatment of ASD. This review mainly discusses the salient observations of the disruptions of the microbiota-gut-brain axis in the pathogenesis of ASD and reveals its potential therapeutic role in autistic deficits.
Keywords: autism spectrum disorder; brain; microbial metabolites; microbiota; probiotics.
Copyright © 2016 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.