Although it is a disease associated with neurological disorders, the microbiota in autism is altered. In fact, most autistic people suffer from gastrointestinal problems and immune system disorders. In this article you will discover how the intestinal flora is related to this disorder.
The gut microbiota
Children with autism have different microbial composition in the gut than other infants. The composition of the gut microbiota is different in the stomach, small intestine and in the colon. Thus, the thousands of microbial species -bacteria, viruses and some fungi- that inhabit it comprise the main protection system of the gastrointestinal tract.
The microbiota participates in the proper functioning of the body in different ways:
- Establishing an intestinal barrier that selects the passage of different substances, preventing pathogenic species from crossing it.
- Maturing the immune system, stimulating innate and acquired immunity.
- Taking care of the synthesis and metabolism of nutrients, hormones and vitamins, in addition to the elimination of toxic substances.
The modifications of the bacterial composition of this microbiota are influenced by diet, the use of antibiotics, lifestyle and genetics. Recent studies suggest that there could be a relationship between flora alterations and some psychiatric disorders – autism, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease.
Dysbiosis is the alteration in the intestinal bacterial composition that leads to the production and spread of lipopolysaccharide (LSP) to the blood, a pro-inflammatory endotoxin. This molecule influences the modulation of the central nervous system, controlling emotions.
There is a bidirectional connection between the central nervous system and the gut. Neurons can change the microbial composition of the intestinal flora and alter intestinal permeability. In this way, the brain directly influences the gut microbiota.
On the other hand, there are publications that show that this microbiota controls the activities of the central nervous system. A study in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity investigated how the bacterium Campylobacter jejun i raised the anxiety state of mice.