Bacteria in the gut of autistic children different from non-autistic children

January 9, 2012, American Society for Microbiology

The underlying reason autism is often associated with gastrointestinal problems is an unknown, but new results to be published in the online journal mBio on January 10 reveal that the guts of autistic children differ from other children in at least one important way: many children with autism harbor a type of bacteria in their guts that non-autistic children do not. The study was conducted by Brent Williams and colleagues at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Earlier work has revealed that with often exhibit inflammation and other abnormalities in their upper and lower intestinal tracts. However, scientists do not know what causes the inflammation or how the condition relates to the developmental disorders that characterize autism. The research results appearing in mBio indicate the communities of that reside in the gut of with are different than the communities of non-autistic children. Whether or not these differences are a cause or effect of autism remains to be seen.

"The relationship between different microorganisms and the host and the outcomes for disease and development is an exciting issue," says Christine A. Biron, the Brintzenhoff Professor of Medical Science at Brown University and editor of the study. "This paper is important because it starts to advance the question of how the resident interact with a disorder that is poorly understood."

Bacteria belonging to the group Sutterella represented a relatively large proportion of the microorganisms found in 12 of 23 tissue samples from the guts of autistic children, but these organisms were not detected in any samples from non-autistic children. Why this organism is present only in with gastrointestinal problems and not in unaffected kids is unclear.

"Sutterella has been associated with below the diaphragm, and whether it's a pathogen or not is still not clear," explains Jorge Benach, Chairman of the Department of Microbiology at Stony Brook University and a reviewer of the report. "It is not a very well-known bacterium."

In children with autism, digestive problems can be quite serious and can contribute to behavioral problems, making it difficult for doctors and therapists to help their patients. Autism, itself, is poorly understood, but the frequent linkage between this set of developmental disorders and problems in the gut is even less so.

Benach says the study was uniquely powerful because they used from the guts of patients. "Most work that has been done linking the gut microbiome with autism has been done with stool samples," says Benach, but the microorganisms shed in stool don't necessarily represent the microbes that line the intestinal wall. "What may show up in a stool sample may be different from what is directly attached to the tissue," he says.

Tissue biopsy samples require surgery to acquire and represent a difficult process for the patient, facts that underscore the seriousness of the gastrointestinal problems many autistic children and their families must cope with.

Benach emphasizes that the study is statistically powerful, but future work is needed to determine what role Sutterella plays, if any, in the problems in the gut. "It is an observation that needs to be followed through," says Benach.

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not rated yet Jan 10, 2012
This is interesting. My nutrition lecturer was very fond of saying "disease begins in the gut".

One has to wonder, then, how autistics would respond to a diet design to normalise gut flora. Thinking about it now I suppose some have already tried this and I should perhaps go have a but of a Google.
Robert Dole
not rated yet Jan 10, 2012
Autism: The Eusocial Hominid Hypothesis

"ASDs are hypothesiz­ed as one of many adaptive human cognitive variations that have been maintained in human population­s via genetic and epigenetic mechanisms­. Introgress­ion from 'archaic' hominids (adapted for less demanding social environmen­ts) is hypothesiz­ed to explain the initial discrete variation because inclusive fitness does not adequately model the evolution of distinct, copy-numbe­r sensitive phenotypes within a freely reproducin­g population­."

That might explain the different microbiome­s.
not rated yet Jan 11, 2012
How does this finding connect to/reinforce/ relate to/concur with Dr Wakefield's 1999 observations of residues of the measles vaccine part of the MMR vaccine in the gut of the 12 children diagnosed as AUTISTIC, that were having severe pain in the gut and were brought to him for diagnosis and treatment.
At that time Dr Wakefield suggested that the three vaccines in combination acronym, MMR, be given individually, spaced in time, until studies of the possible problem being caused by a negative synergism of the combining.
The fact that the article makes NO mention of DR Wakefield observations and his call for further study of the possible negative effects that the combined MMR vaccine may cause makes me wonder/question about the abilities of the researchers to build the work/observations of those that came before them?????
not rated yet Jan 11, 2012

Wakefield's study has been proven to be a fraud. Lancet completely retracted that publication in 2010. See here for more details:

not rated yet Jan 12, 2012
Hey Pink Elephant
Wakefield DOD NOT do a study! He listed his observations after examining these 12 children. You my friend have sipped the coolaide!
PINK E do you have any interest conflicts that you should declare
Cycle3man Grandad to a beautjful vaccine damage child. I haven't any connection to the vaccine industry!
not rated yet Jan 12, 2012
Obviously, you never bothered to read the link. Here, I'll make it easy for you:
The research was declared fraudulent in 2011 by the BMJ.[6] The scientific consensus is that no evidence links the vaccine to the development of autism, and that the vaccine's benefits greatly outweigh its risks.
Following the initial claims in 1998, multiple large epidemiological studies were undertaken. Reviews of the evidence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,[7] the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences,[8] the UK National Health Service,[9] and the Cochrane Library[10] all found no link between the vaccine and autism.
The claims in Wakefield's 1998 The Lancet article were widely reported;[13] vaccination rates in the UK and Ireland dropped sharply,[14] which in turn led to greatly increased incidence of measles and mumps, resulting in deaths and severe and permanent injuries.[15]
not rated yet Jan 12, 2012
My friend, Pink E, I've closely followed the condemnation and attempt to destroy Wakefield since 1999. The British medical establishment, each with personal conflict of interest ganged up and tried to get Wakefield out of the way. He will be found to have suggested a realistic path of study to follow.
The establishment has refused to perform the suggested studies.
The children with these problems of the gut are not going away. Eventually his suggestion of diligent studies will be performed and his suspicions will be found to be correct.
not rated yet Jan 17, 2012
cycle3man: I feel for you and your family that you have had to deal with the special needs of an autistic child. And I completely understand that you are looking for answers as to how something like this could happen to your beautiful granddaughter. Unfortunately, there are, and always have been, charlatans and hucksters that prey on those looking for help. Being duped by these miscreants doesn't make you stupid, there were some very intelligent people in Jonestown. That does not, however, make you correct when you regurgitate what you believe to be facts, but are, in reality, lies.

Mr. Wakefield (this man is NOT a doctor) cherry picked data. He then only selected 12, TWELVE cases to base his findings. And this was not a qualitative study, he tried to pass this off as quantitative fact. Studies that came after him (that were in no way financed by any pharmaceutical company) of over 100,000 children proved him incorrect. He might as well blamed invisible flying unicorns.

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