Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with and without Mental Regression is Associated with Changes in the Fecal Microbiota
New microbiome sequencing technologies provide novel information about the potential interactions among intestinal microorganisms and the host in some neuropathologies as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The microbiota-gut-brain axis is an emerging aspect in the generation of autistic behaviors; evidence from animal models suggests that intestinal microbial shifts may produce changes fitting the clinical picture of autism. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the fecal metagenomic profiles in children with ASD and compare them with healthy participants. This comparison allows us to ascertain how mental regression (an important variable in ASD) could influence the intestinal microbiota profile. For this reason, a subclassification in children with ASD by mental regression (AMR) and no mental regression (ANMR) phenotype was performed. The present report was a descriptive observational study. Forty-eight children aged 2-6 years with ASD were included: 30 with ANMR and 18 with AMR. In addition, a control group of 57 normally developing children was selected and matched to the ASD group by sex and age. Fecal samples were analyzed with a metagenomic approach using a next-generation sequencing platform. Several Nutrients 2019, 11, 337 2 of 17 differences between children with ASD, compared with the healthy group, were detected. Namely, Actinobacteria and Proteobacteria at phylum level, as well as, Actinobacteria, Bacilli, Erysipelotrichi, and Gammaproteobacteria at class level were found at higher proportions in children with ASD. Additionally, Proteobacteria levels showed to be augmented exclusively in AMR children. Preliminary results, using a principal component analysis, showed differential patterns in children with ASD, ANMR and AMR, compared to healthy group, both for intestinal microbiota and food patterns. In this study, we report, higher levels of Actinobacteria, Proteobacteria and Bacilli, aside from Erysipelotrichi, and Gammaproteobacteria in children with ASD compared to healthy group. Furthermore, AMR children exhibited higher levels of Proteobacteria. Further analysis using these preliminary results and mixing metagenomic and other "omic" technologies are needed in larger cohorts of children with ASD to confirm these intestinal microbiota changes.