Background: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition strongly associated with
genetic predisposition and familial aggregation. Among ASD patients, different levels of symptoms
severity are detectable, while the presence of intermediate autism phenotypes in close relatives of
ASD probands is also known in literature. Recently, increasing attention has been paid to environmental
factors that might play a role in modulating the relationship between genomic risk and development
and severity of ASD. Within this framework, an increasing body of evidence has stressed
a possible role of both gut microbiota and inflammation in the pathophysiology of neurodevelopment.
The aim of this paper is to review findings about the link between microbiota dysbiosis, inflammation
Methods: Articles ranging from 1990 to 2018 were identified on PUBMED and Google Scholar
databases, with keyword combinations as: microbiota, immune system, inflammation, ASD, autism,
broad autism phenotype, adult.
Results: Recent evidence suggests that microbiota alterations, immune system and neurodevelopment
may be deeply intertwined, shaping each other during early life. However, results from both
animal models and human samples are still heterogeneous, while few studies focused on adult patients
and ASD intermediate phenotypes.
Conclusion: A better understanding of these pathways, within an integrative framework between
central and peripheral systems, might not only shed more light on neural basis of ASD symptoms,
clarifying brain pathophysiology, but it may also allow to develop new therapeutic strategies for
these disorders, still poorly responsive to available treatments.