Role of gut bacteria in the development of autism

Probiotics for prevention of autism spectrum disorders

Winclove Probiotics, Karolinska Institutet and Radboud University Medical Center has started a collaboration to investigate the role of gut bacteria in the development of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). This project will test in a mouse model whether the intake of probiotics can improve symptoms of ASD.

ASD is a group of developmental disorders characterized by impaired social interaction and communication as well as repetitive and restrictive behaviors. The current prevalence of ASD is around 3% of the children in the Netherlands. Despite significant economic and societal costs, there are no treatment options to prevent ASD and limited options to ameliorate the symptoms associated with ASDs. During the last years, it has become clear that gut bacteria play a key role in brain development and behavior. There is a connection between the brain, the gut and the commensal bacteria living in the gut (the microbiota), also known as the microbiota- gut-brain axis.

This project has tested different probiotic products to see whether they have similar or different effects on behaviour and brain development in an ASD mouse model.

This project showed that indeed the intake of a specific probiotic product improved social behaviour of the male offspring. This improvement was accompanied by an increase in gut barrier function, and also with an increase in the blood brain barrier. In the future this probiotic candidate for the prevention of ASD can be further tested.

This may sound surprising, but bacteria in your gut can play a role in behavior. In this project, they increase the knowledge about the communication between the brain and the gut and they tested whether intake of probiotics can prevent the occurrence of behavioral symptoms of autism spectrum disorders.
Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
2 -4
Time period
24 months