Thursday, 22 November 2018

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How inflammation and gut bacteria influence autism

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A new study investigates the relationship between autism, the immune system, gastrointestinal issues, and gut bacteria. The story is a complex one with many questions still remaining unanswered, but this latest project adds insight.

 

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 68 children in the United States.

 

Characterized by difficulties with socializing, and often accompanied by repetitive behaviors, this neurodevelopmental disorder harbors many mysteries.

 

Despite its prevalence and a glut of research, the causes behind ASD are still not fully understood.

 

Although ASD primarily impacts the brain, over recent years, links with other systems have become clear — in particular, gastrointestinal (GI) issues seem to occur more often in individuals with ASD than in the rest of the population.

 

In one study, compared with typically developing (TD) children, those with ASD were six to eight times more likely to report GI symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

 

Other studies have shown that children with ASD who experience GI problems are more likely to have more severe symptoms of ASD. Also, treating the GI symptoms can sometimes relieve the behavioral and social symptoms of ASD.

 

Interestingly, behavioral issues are found alongside other conditions that impact the gut. For instance, people with celiac disease are more likely to have autism-like traits and other psychological symptoms. The gut and behavior seem tied together in some way.

 

According to many researchers, the GI issues that come with ASD might be due to two factors: firstly, inappropriate immune activation, causing inflammation of the tract; and, secondly, differences in the types of gut bacteria that are present.

 

However, the picture is still incredibly murky, and studies produce differing results, finding different types of inflammation and various changes in gut bacteria.

 

A new study investigates the relationship between autism, the immune system, gastrointestinal issues, and gut bacteria. The story is a complex one with many questions still remaining unanswered, but this latest project adds insight.

Gut brain axis

A new study examines the communication lines between gut and brain.

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) affect 1 in 68 children in the United States.

 

Characterized by difficulties with socializing, and often accompanied by repetitive behaviors, this neurodevelopmental disorder harbors many mysteries.

 

Despite its prevalence and a glut of research, the causes behind ASD are still not fully understood.

 

Although ASD primarily impacts the brain, over recent years, links with other systems have become clear — in particular, gastrointestinal (GI) issues seem to occur more often in individuals with ASD than in the rest of the population.

 

In one study, compared with typically developing (TD) children, those with ASD were six to eight times more likely to report GI symptoms such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.

 

Other studies have shown that children with ASD who experience GI problems are more likely to have more severe symptoms of ASD. Also, treating the GI symptoms can sometimes relieve the behavioral and social symptoms of ASD.

 

Interestingly, behavioral issues are found alongside other conditions that impact the gut. For instance, people with celiac disease are more likely to have autism-like traits and other psychological symptoms. The gut and behavior seem tied together in some way.

 

According to many researchers, the GI issues that come with ASD might be due to two factors: firstly, inappropriate immune activation, causing inflammation of the tract; and, secondly, differences in the types of gut bacteria that are present.

 

However, the picture is still incredibly murky, and studies produce differing results, finding different types of inflammation and various changes in gut bacteria.

 

 

The gut and the immune system

 

Recently, researchers from the University of California, Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento set out to investigate these relationships in more detail. Led by first authors Paul Ashwood and Destanie Rose, their results were published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

 

The scientists examined 103 children, aged 3–12. The participants were split into four groups:

 

Children with ASD and GI problems (ASD+GI)

Children with ASD but without GI problems (ASD)

TD children with GI problems (TD+GI)

TD children without GI problems (TD)

To assess both the immune response and gut bacteria, the researchers analyzed blood and stool samples.

 

Children in the ASD+GI group showed a number of differences compared with the other three groups. For instance, they had higher levels of inflammatory cytokines — which are signaling molecules that promote inflammation — such as interleukin 5 (IL-5), IL-15, and IL-17.

Read Full Article here

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