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A quasi-paired cohort strategy reveals the impaired detoxifying function of microbes in the gut of autistic children

By Mengxiang Zhang, Yanan Chu, Qingren Meng, Rui Ding, Xing Shi, Zuqun Wang, Yi He, Juan Zhang, Jing Liu, Jie Zhang, Jun Yu, Yu Kang, Juan Wang

Posted 11 Mar 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.10.984872 (published DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba3760)

Growing evidence suggests that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is highly associated with dysbiosis in the gut microbiome. However, results of metagenome-based microbiome studies are not always consistent due to great individual diversity that overwhelms disease-associated alterations. Here, we proposed a novel analysis strategy,quasi-paired cohort, and applied it to a metagenomic study of ASD microbiomes. By comparing the paired samples of ASD and neurotypical subjects, we identified significant deficiencies in ASD children in detoxifying enzymes and pathways, which showed strong correlations to mitochondrial damage. Diagnostic models with these detoxifying enzymes accurately discriminated ASD individuals from controls, and the dysfunction score inferred from the model increased with the clinical rating scores of ASD. Conclusively, our findings suggest a previously undiscovered mechanism in which impaired microbial detoxification leads to toxicant accumulation and mitochondrion damage contributes to the pathogenesis of ASD. This novel mechanism points to future therapeutic strategies of rebuilding microbial detoxification for ASD.

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