The following is a summary of journal publications by Associate Professor Knowles. Click on the references below for further details.
Gondalia, S., Palombo, E., Knowles, S., Austin, D. (2010). Gastrointestinal microbiology in Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A review. Reviews in Medical Microbiology, 21, 44-50. Impact Factor: 0.370
Cases of autism have frequently been reported in association with gastrointestinal problems. These observations have stimulated investigations into possible abnormalities of intestinal microbiota in autistic patients. The objectives of this paper were to review the possible involvement and mechanisms of gastrointestinal microbiota in autistic spectrum disorder and explain the possible role of gastrointestinal microbiota in the condition. This review addresses the possible involvement of bacteria, viruses and fungi, and their products in autism. Direct viral damage of neurons or disruption of normal neurodevelopment by immune elements such as cytokines, nitric oxide and bacterial products, including lipopolysaccharides, toxins and metabolites, have been suggested to contribute to autistic pathology. Numerous intestinal microbial abnormalities have been reported in individuals with autism. Research to date exploring possible gastrointestinal problems and infection in autism has been limited by small and heterogeneous samples, study design flaws and conflicting results. Furthermore, interventions designed to modify the intestinal microbial population of autistic patients are few and limited in their generalisation. In order to bring clarity to this field, high-quality and targeted investigations are needed to explore the role of gastrointestinal microbiology in autism. To this end, several promising avenues for future research are suggested.
Gondalia, S., Palombo, E., Knowles, S., Austin, D. (2010). Faecal microbiota of individuals with autism spectrum disorder. E-Journal of Applied Psychology, 6(2), 24-29.
Many children with autistic spectrum disorders (ASDs) suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhoea, constipation and abdominal pain. Such symptoms may be due to a disruption of the indigenous gut microbiota promoting the overgrowth of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms. These observations have stimulated investigations into possible abnormalities of intestinal microbiota in autistic patients. The purpose of the present study was to determine if a relationship exists between ASD severity (mild – severe) and GI microbial populations. The faecal microbiota of 22 male and 6 female participants with ASDs (aged 7 ± 6 years) were analyzed by standard microbial culture methods and compared within-group (based on ASD severity) and with a standard laboratory reference range. Comparisons between children with mild ASD and those with moderate to severe ASD, as well as comparisons to a neurotypical control group previously reported, revealed that no significant differences appear to exist in the composition of the gut microbiota. Nevertheless, examination of each individual’s gut microbial composition showed 10 cases of unusual findings witch means 1out of 3 cases have unusual microbiota. Our data do not support consistent GI microbial abnormalities in ASD children, but the findings do suggest that aberrations may be found in a minority subset of ASD children. Further studies are required to determine the possible association between the microbiota and gastrointestinal dysfunctions in a subset of children with both ASD and gastro-intestinal problems.