Gut-to-Brain Axis in Autism Spectrum Disorders: Central Role for the Microbiome

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:263-287. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.09.001. Epub 2016 Sep 30.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are neurodevelopmental disorders, which occur in early childhood and persist into adulthood. Although the etiology of these disorders is largely unknown, genetic and environmental factors are thought to interplay in the development of ASD. Intestinal microbial dysbiosis, in prenatal and postnatal phases, is an important example of these environmental factors, and gastrointestinal problems including adverse reactions to foods are often reported in these children. In this review, we address the clinical and preclinical findings on the role of the intestinal microbiome in ASD and suggest possible underlying mechanisms. Furthermore, opportunities for (nutritional) interventions in ASD are provided.

Keywords: ASD; Autism spectrum disorders; Food allergy; Gastrointestinal problems; Microbiome; Short-chain fatty acids.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / immunology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / microbiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder* / pathology
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Microbiota / physiology*