Probiotics and fructo-oligosaccharide intervention modulate the microbiota-gut brain axis to improve autism spectrum reducing also the hyper-serotonergic state and the dopamine metabolism disorder.
The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is increasing, but its etiology remains elusive and hence an effective treatment is not available. Previous research conducted on animal models suggests that microbiota-gut-brain axis may contribute to ASD pathology and more human research is needed. This study was divided into two stages,.At the discovery stage, we compared the differences in gut microbiota profiles (using 16S rRNA sequencing), fecal SCFAs (using GC-MS) and plasma neurotransmitters (using UHPLC-MS/MS) of 26 children with ASD and 24 normal children. All 26 children with ASD participated in the intervention stage, and we measured the gut microbiota profiles, SCFAs and neurotransmitters before and after probiotics + FOS (n = 16) or placebo supplementation (n = 10). We found that gut microbiota was in a state of dysbiosis and significantly lower levels of Bifidobacteriales and Bifidobacterium longum were observed at the discovery stage in children with ASD. An increase in beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacteriales and B. longum) and suppression of suspected pathogenic bacteria (Clostridium) emerged after probiotics + FOS intervention, with significant reduction in the severity of autism and gastrointestinal symptoms. Compared to children in the control group, significantly lower levels of acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid were found, and a hyperserotonergic state (increased serotonin) and dopamine metabolism disorder (decreased homovanillic acid) were observed in children with ASD. Interestingly, the above SCFAs in children with autism significantly elevated after probiotics + FOS intervention and approached those in the control group. In addition, our data demonstrated that decreased serotonin and increased homovanillic acid emerged after probiotics + FOS intervention. However, the above-mentioned changes did not appear in the placebo group for ASD children. Probiotics + FOS intervention can modulate gut microbiota, SCFAs and serotonin in association with improved ASD symptoms, including a hyper-serotonergic state and dopamine metabolism disorder.