Supplementation with Bifidobacterium Infantis in Combination with Bioactive Milk Components to Alter Microbial Composition in Children with Autism

Megan Sanctuary, Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, USA

Megan R. Sanctuary, MS 1,2, Jennifer T. Smilowitz, PhD 2,3, David Mills, PhD 2,3, J. Bruce German, PhD 2,3, Paul Ashwood, PhD 4,5, Kathleen Angkustsiri, MD 5,6
1 Department of Nutrition, University of California at Davis, CA,
2 Foods for Health Institute, University of California at Davis, CA,
3 Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California at Davis, CA
4 Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, CA,
5 MIND Institute, University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA,
6 Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of California at Davis, CA

A feature of the evolution of lactation is the explicit development of a symbiotic relationship between microorganisms and the mammalian host that is absolutely essential for proper physiological function. Human milk guides the colonization and composition of the infant gut microbiota more than any other environmental factor and compelling evidence is emerging that a milk-oriented microbiota (MOM) guides the development of various systemic processes (immunity, metabolism, neurological networks) and sets the infant up for a lifetime of health, including optimal neurodevelopment. The extent of the effect of microbial composition and activity on human physiology has only begun to be explored with neurodevelopment positioned at the very edge of this investigation. Examination of neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and their connection with gut microbial dysbiosis will provide insight into the explicit but often elusive gut microbiota-brain axis in human development. Children with ASD, characterized by a range of cognitive and social deficits, are also commonly plagued by gastrointestinal (GI) co-morbidities including chronic constipation and diarrhea. The severity of autism symptoms is often correlated with the extent of GI symptomology as well as degree of microbial dysbiosis in the gut. This study was designed to explore characteristics of microbial dysbiosis that may contribute to the severity of GI and behavioral symptoms in children with ASD and whether supplementation with the probiotic Bifidobacterium infantis with bioactive milk components (bovine colostrum product – BCP) can ameliorate this microbial dysbiosis. This pilot study is a randomized, double blind, controlled trial of a synbiotic (BCP + B. infantis) vs. BCP alone. Each participant was randomized to receive either the synbiotic first or the BMO first in a cross-over study design. The study lasted 12 weeks, including 5 weeks of BCP use, 5 weeks of synbiotic use, and a two-week washout period in between. Stool, urine, and blood samples were collected throughout the study and analyzed for microbial composition. Results of this study will provide insights into the dependence of human neurodevelopment on the natural progression of the gut microbiota.

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