New research points to a possible link between Autism Spectrum Disorder and the gut microbiota as many autistic children have co-occurring gastrointestinal problems. This review focuses on specific alterations of gut microbiota mostly observed in autistic patients. Particularly, the mechanisms through which such alterations may trigger the production of the bacterial metabolites or leaky gut in autistic people are described. Various altered metabolite levels were observed in autistic children, many of those were of bacterial origin such as short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), indoles and lipopolysaccharides. A less integrative gut-blood-barrier is abundant in autistic individuals. This explains the leakage of bacterial metabolites into the patients triggering new body responses or altered metabolism. Some other co-occurring symptoms such as mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress in the cells, altered tight junctions in the blood brain barrier and structural changes in cortex, hippocampus, amygdala and cerebellum were detected. Moreover, this paper suggests that autism is associated with an unbalanced gut microbiota (dysbiosis). Although the cause-effect relationship between autism and gut microbiota is not yet well established, consumption of specific probiotics may represent a powerful tool to re-establish gut homeostasis and promote gut health. Diagnostic and therapeutic value of new biomarkers leading to the perturbation in the phenylalanine metabolism will be discussed.
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