Scientists performed fecal transplants on mice, where fecal samples of 16 children (11 of whom had autism) were put inside their digestive systems. The team then monitored the rodents’ behavior.
When compared with mice didn’t undergo the fecal transplant, the colonized mice showed symptoms comparable to autism, such as repetitive behavior and lower levels of social interaction.
The scientists also noticed the expression of genes associated with autism in the colonized mice was different. These animals also had lower levels of the metabolites 5-aminovaleric acid (5AV) and taurine. When scientists treated the mice with these metabolites, their symptoms of autism appeared to ease.
However, Gil stressed that as the work is in mice, future studies are needed to confirm whether the results relate to humans too. Also, problems may have arisen when the human microbes were transferred into the mice. Gil acknowledged 16 donors isn’t many when it comes to producing results that can relate to a wide population.
“Maybe most important—we can’t tell if changes in the microbiota are a cause of autism in people, though this work in mice suggests that differences in gut microbial communities may differentially contribute to behaviors.”
Read more at https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/05/gut-bacteria-may-contribute-autism-symptoms-mouse-study-finds