“Research has shown that gastrointestinal problems are associated with an increased stress response as well as aggression and irritability in some children with autism.“Brad Ferguson, assistant professor of research in the Department of Radiology of the MU School of Medicine, said.
This can happen because some children with autism are unable to verbally communicate their gastrointestinal discomfort as well as how they are feeling in general, which can be extremely frustrating.
The goal of the new study was to find out what factors are linked to digestive problems in people with autism so we can design treatments to help these people feel better.
For the study, researchers analyzed the health data of more than 620 autistic patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders under 18 years of age with gastrointestinal problems.
They then examined the relationship between gastrointestinal problems and intrinsic symptoms, such as stress, anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.
These findings provide further evidence of the importance of the “brain-gut axis,” or the connection between the brain and the digestive tract, in digestive disorders in people with autism.
What is the gut-brain axis?
Stress signals from the brain can alter the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine in the gut that help control gastrointestinal motility or the movement of stool through the intestines.
Stress also affects the balance of bacteria living in the gut, known as the microbiome, which can alter gastrointestinal function.. The gut then sends signals back to the brain, and that can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and social withdrawal.
Then the cycle repeats, so new treatments that address signals from both the brain and gut may be of most benefit for some children with digestive disorders and autism.
Got a new idea for autism
An interdisciplinary team of experts has attempted to tackle this complex issue and develop future treatments. In a recent study, they identified specific RNA biomarkers that are associated with gastrointestinal problems in children with autism.
The relationship between microRNAs is associated with anxiety behavior after prolonged stress as well as depression and dyspepsia, providing some evidence converging with the behavioral findings.
Now, researchers are working together to determine the effects of a stress reliever on gastrointestinal problems in a clinical trial.
This biomarker-based approach to finding common markers in the body in people who respond well to certain treatments will help develop a rapid test that tells us how What treatment is likely to be effective for the patient? This way, the right treatment can be delivered to the right patient at the right time.