Table_13_A Computational Framework for Studying Gut-Brain Axis in Autism Spectrum Disorder.xlsx (80.75 kB)
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Table_13_A Computational Framework for Studying Gut-Brain Axis in Autism Spectrum Disorder.xlsx

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posted on 07.03.2022, 04:57 authored by Faiz Khan Mohammad, Meghana Venkata Palukuri, Shruti Shivakumar, Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Swagatika Sahoo

The integrity of the intestinal epithelium is crucial for human health and is harmed in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). An aberrant gut microbial composition resulting in gut-derived metabolic toxins was found to damage the intestinal epithelium, jeopardizing tissue integrity. These toxins further reach the brain via the gut-brain axis, disrupting the normal function of the brain. A mechanistic understanding of metabolic disturbances in the brain and gut is essential to design effective therapeutics and early intervention to block disease progression. Herein, we present a novel computational framework integrating constraint based tissue specific metabolic (CBM) model and whole-body physiological pharmacokinetics (PBPK) modeling for ASD. Furthermore, the role of gut microbiota, diet, and oxidative stress is analyzed in ASD.


A representative gut model capturing host-bacteria and bacteria-bacteria interaction was developed using CBM techniques and patient data. Simultaneously, a PBPK model of toxin metabolism was assembled, incorporating multi-scale metabolic information. Furthermore, dynamic flux balance analysis was performed to integrate CBM and PBPK. The effectiveness of a probiotic and dietary intervention to improve autism symptoms was tested on the integrated model.


The model accurately highlighted critical metabolic pathways of the gut and brain that are associated with ASD. These include central carbon, nucleotide, and vitamin metabolism in the host gut, and mitochondrial energy and amino acid metabolisms in the brain. The proposed dietary intervention revealed that a high-fiber diet is more effective than a western diet in reducing toxins produced inside the gut. The addition of probiotic bacteria Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifidobacterium longum longum, Akkermansia muciniphila, and Prevotella ruminicola to the diet restores gut microbiota balance, thereby lowering oxidative stress in the gut and brain.


The proposed computational framework is novel in its applicability, as demonstrated by the determination of the whole-body distribution of ROS toxins and metabolic association in ASD. In addition, it emphasized the potential for developing novel therapeutic strategies to alleviate autism symptoms. Notably, the presented integrated model validates the importance of combining PBPK modeling with COBRA -specific tissue details for understanding disease pathogenesis.