Assessment Of The Impact Of Standard-Of-Care Treatment For Asd-Associated Enterocolitis: A Longitudinal Study

Steve Walker, PhD


Gut Microbiome






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Published studies have reported that an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) phenotype co-occurs frequently in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) having chronic gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Ileocolitis(inflammation of ileum and colon) is a frequent finding in GI symptomatic children with ASD undergoing diagnostic ileo- colonoscopy and, in our clinical experience, is the cause of the GI symptoms. Published data have consistently shown that active gastrointestinal symptoms can affect behavior, sleep, anxiety levels, as well as the severity of core ASD features. In fact, the severity of GI symptoms in many patients is more concerning to the parents than the autism itself and more severely impacts quality of life. Pharmaceutical treatment of ASD-associated IBD largely resolves GI symptoms. To date, clinical and behavioral outcomes following treatment of ASD-associated IBD have not yet been systematically evaluated, documented, analyzed, and reported. The talks in this two-part lecture will discuss: (1) the rationale for, and development of, a treatment study to assess changes that occur in children with autism that are treated for ileocolonic inflammation (Dr. Krigsman), and (2) the findings in the first 11 participants to complete this 52-week trial (Dr. Walker).

Speaker: Steve Walker, PhD


Steve Walker, PhD

Stephen J. Walker, PhD, professor, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Walker’s current studies are focused broadly on understanding the molecular and functional genomic features that underlie complex disease, specifically: (1) autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and an associated inflammatory bowel condition (ASD associated ileocolitis) in children and, (2) interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS), a complex urologic disorder in men and women aged 18-80 years old. By working directly with clinicians who treat these patients, Dr. Walker has been able to amass truly unique tissue banks from which to draw biomaterials (e.g. biopsy tissue, whole blood, serum) for molecular profiling. The primary goals for these studies are: (a) to understand the biology of the disease, (b) to identify clinically relevant subgroups with these complex disorders, and, (c) to use actual patient specimens, to identify biomarkers that will aid in diagnosis and treatment of patients presenting with these very heterogeneous conditions.