Nowadays, there seems to be a consensus about the multifactorial nature of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The literature provides hypotheses dealing with numerous environmental factors and genes accounting for the apparently higher prevalence of this condition. Researchers have shown evidence regarding the impact of gut bacteria on neurological outcomes, altering behavior and potentially affecting the onset and/or severity of psychiatric disorders. Pesticides and agrotoxics are also included among this long list of ASD-related environmental stressors. Of note, ingestion of glyphosate (GLY), a broad-spectrum systemic herbicide, can reduce beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract microbiota without exerting any effects on the Clostridium population, which is highly resistant to this herbicide. In the present study, (i) we performed a systematic review to evaluate the relationship between Clostridium bacteria and the probability of developing and/or aggravating autism among children. For that purpose, electronic searches were performed on Medline/PubMed and Scielo databases for identification of relevant studies published in English up to December 2017. Two independent researches selected the studies and analyzed the data. The results of the present systematic review demonstrate an interrelation between Clostridium bacteria colonization of the intestinal tract and autism. Finally, (ii) we also hypothesize about how environmental GLY levels may deleteriously influence the gut-brain axis by boosting the growth of Clostridium bacteria in autistic toddlers.
Keywords: Clostridium; agrotoxics; autism spectrum disorders; bacteria; brain; gene-environment interactions; gut microbes; pesticides; pollution.