In vitrofermentation of B-GOS: impact on faecal bacterial populations and metabolic activity in autistic and non-autistic children

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Children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often suffer gastrointestinal problems consistent with imbalances in the gut microbial population. Treatment with antibiotics or pro/prebiotics has been postulated to regulate microbiota and improve gut symptoms, but there is a lack of evidence for such approaches, especially for prebiotics. This study assessed the influence of a prebiotic galactooligosaccharide (B-GOS) on gut microbial ecology and metabolic function using faecal samples from autistic and non-autistic children in an in vitro gut model system. Bacteriology was analysed using flow cytometry combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization and metabolic activity by HPLC and 1H-NMR. Consistent with previous studies, the microbiota of children with ASD contained a higher number of Clostridium spp. and a lower number of bifidobacteria compared with non-autistic children. B-GOS administration significantly increased bifidobacterial populations in each compartment of the models, both with autistic and non-autistic-derived samples, and lactobacilli in the final vessel of non-autistic models. In addition, changes in other bacterial population have been seen in particular for Clostridium, Rosburia, Bacteroides, Atopobium, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Sutterella spp. and Veillonellaceae. Furthermore, the addition of B-GOS to the models significantly altered short-chain fatty acid production in both groups, and increased ethanol and lactate in autistic children.

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