Fecal Transplantation and Bifidobacterium Supplementation Show Promise in Reducing Austistic Behaviors

February 28, 2022

Rodent Study Demonstrates the Potential of Gut Microbiota-Targeted Therapeutics  

By recognizing that an association between gut dysbiosis and autistic behavior has been established in rodents and human subjects, a team of researchers recently embarked on a study to investigate if fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) or probiotic administration, such as Bifidobacteria, could provide therapeutic benefits for people with autism. This study’s design involved using rodents to test both treatments. Propionic acid (PPA) was administered to lab rats to induce symptoms of autism. The animals were later treated with either saline, FMT, or Bifidobacteria for 22 days. Rats in the control group received saline throughout the study. Another group of rodents was exposed to FMT only. The third group was given Bifidobacteria only. At the end of the 22 days, social behavior of the rats and selected brain biochemical markers related to stress hormones, inflammation, and oxidative stress were assessed. Results showed that the rats exposed to Bifidobacteria were more effective in inducing social interaction compared to rats exposed to FMT. The research team also discovered that in the brains of rats exposed to Bifidobacteria, there was an increase of oxytocin, a neuropeptide that is involved in modulating anxiety, depression and impaired social behaviors. Bifidobacteria treatment also increased IFN-γ levels, a cytokine that plays an important role in inducing and modulating an array of immune responses. FMT as well as Bifidobacteria increased glutathione-s-transferase (GST) levels in the rats. Ultimately, the study’s authors suggest that their findings indicate that targeted therapeutics like FMT and Bifidobacteria show promise in improving behavioral deficits and underlying neural biochemistry for individuals with autism.  


Original Study Abstract 

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