Specific RNA Biomarkers Linked to GI Issues Found in Children with ASD

March 07, 2022

Study’s Finding May Lead to Individualized Treatments to Ease GI Discomfort 

Two researchers, one from the University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and the other from Penn State University, have recently discovered that children with autism who suffer from gastrointestinal issues have specific RNA biomarkers in their saliva. The pair’s new study involved collecting saliva samples from almost 900 children, some of whom were on the spectrum and also experienced gastrointestinal distress. After the team analyzed the samples, they discovered specific RNA biomarkers in the children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms. Co-author Steve Hicks from Penn State shed more light on this research by stating, “We wanted to understand how a child’s body responds to the various bacteria living in the mouth and determine if these interactions contribute to gastrointestinal symptoms. By identifying these specific microRNAs in the saliva of children with autism, these molecules may serve as future targets for developing novel treatments or tracking medication effectiveness in children with autism-related gastrointestinal conditions.” Hicks’ co-author, David Beversdorf from the University of Missouri, added that RNA have regulatory properties throughout the body, and the specific RNA identified in their research could have regulatory implications on biological pathways related to metabolism, digestion and addiction. Beversdorf also stated, “It’s one of those ‘chicken or the egg’ cases where we still don’t know if it is the RNA potentially contributing to the gastrointestinal issues, or if the gastrointestinal issues are causing the RNA to be expressed differently, but we have identified a relationship, which will be useful to further explore going forward. This research can potentially help contribute to precision medicine one day, where we can follow children with autism and gastrointestinal symptoms over an extended period of time and assess how they might respond to personalized treatments, with the ultimate goal of reducing their symptoms and improving their quality of life.” 


Original Article 

Original Study 

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