Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects an estimated one in 59 people in the United States, causing a variety of difficulties with social communication and repetitive behavior. Many factors, including genetic and environmental effects, are believed to influence symptoms, and there are no approved treatments. Now, using mouse models, Caltech researchers have discovered that gut bacteria directly contribute to autism-like behaviors in mice.
The work was done primarily in the laboratory of Sarkis Mazmanian, an affiliated faculty member of the Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute for Neuroscience andLuis B. and Nelly Soux Professor of Microbiology and Heritage Medical Research Institute (HMRI) Investigator. A paper describing the research appears online in the journal Cell on May 30.