Background: Gastrointestinal dysfunction and gut microbial composition disturbances have been widely reported in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examines whether gut microbiome disturbances are present in the BTBR(T + tf/j) (BTBR) mouse model of ASD and if the ketogenic diet, a diet previously shown to elicit therapeutic benefit in this mouse model, is capable of altering the profile.
Findings: Juvenile male C57BL/6 (B6) and BTBR mice were fed a standard chow (CH, 13 % kcal fat) or ketogenic diet (KD, 75 % kcal fat) for 10-14 days. Following diets, fecal and cecal samples were collected for analysis. Main findings are as follows: (1) gut microbiota compositions of cecal and fecal samples were altered in BTBR compared to control mice, indicating that this model may be of utility in understanding gut-brain interactions in ASD; (2) KD consumption caused an anti-microbial-like effect by significantly decreasing total host bacterial abundance in cecal and fecal matter; (3) specific to BTBR animals, the KD counteracted the common ASD phenotype of a low Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio in both sample types; and (4) the KD reversed elevated Akkermansia muciniphila content in the cecal and fecal matter of BTBR animals.
Conclusions: Results indicate that consumption of a KD likely triggers reductions in total gut microbial counts and compositional remodeling in the BTBR mouse. These findings may explain, in part, the ability of a KD to mitigate some of the neurological symptoms associated with ASD in an animal model.
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder; BTBR mouse; Gut microbiome; Ketogenic diet.