The Fecal Microbiome and Metabolome of Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, a Severe Autism Spectrum Disorder

Amanda H. Dilmore, Daniel McDonald, Tanya T. Nguyen, James B. Adams, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Emmanuel Elijah, Pieter C. Dorrestein, Rob Knight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Alterations to the gut microbiome have been reported between children with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) and typically developing (TD) children. Characterizing these differences has led to the proposal of new treatments for ASD, such as probiotic interventions and fecal matter transplants. However, no study to date has characterized the gut microbiome or metabolome in Pitt Hopkins syndrome (PTHS), a severe ASD with a high incidence of gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances such as constipation. Here, we surveyed the gut microbiome and metabolome in a cohort of PTHS individuals and their unaffected parents. We focused our analysis on Clostridium bolteae, a microbe previously associated with ASD known to chemically modify bile acids in the gut. PTHS individuals carry a higher load of C. bolteae than their parents as well as both ASD and non-ASD individuals from the American Gut Project cohort. Specific metabolites were associated with PTHS, including bile acids and sphingosines. With a metadata reanalysis tool, we found that PTHS-associated metabolites have previously been identified in inflammatory bowel disease and obesity patients. These results suggest microbial involvement in PTHS, but further research must be performed to clarify the exact mechanisms through which microbes may act. Furthermore, new associations between PTHS-specific metabolites and other conditions may lead to additional therapeutic options for PTHS individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01006-21
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Computational biology
  • Microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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