Are fecal metabolome and microbiota profiles correlated with autism severity? A cross-sectional study on asd preschoolers

Luca Laghi, Paola Mastromarino, Margherita Prosperi, Maria Aurora Morales, Sara Calderoni, Elisa Santocchi, Filippo Muratori, Letizia Guiducci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) make up a heterogeneous group of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by social and communication difficulties associated with repetitive and restrictive behaviors. Besides core features, metabolic imbalances, inflammation, gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, and altered gut microbiota composition were often described in association with ASD, but their connection with the severity of autism (SA) remains unexplored. In this study, fecal metabolome, microbiota, and calprotectin levels of 80 ASD preschoolers were quantified and correlated with SA. Twelve of the fifty-nine molecules that were quantified by fecal metabolome analysis were significantly associated with SA. No links between SA or GI symptoms and microorganisms’ relative abundance were highlighted. Significant correlations between bifidobacteria, Sutterella, lactobacilli relative abundance, and metabolomics profiles were found. These results suggest that fecal metabolome discriminates the SA and intestinal microorganisms mediate the link between metabolome and SA regardless of GI symptomatology. The study raises the possibility that grouping ASD populations through metabolomics and fecal microbiota could aid the identification of specific ASD endophenotypes, on the basis of the SA. Mechanistic studies focusing on detected biomarkers might be an option for future studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number654
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Fecal metabolome
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolomics
  • Microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Are fecal metabolome and microbiota profiles correlated with autism severity? A cross-sectional study on asd preschoolers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this