I have been interested in the importance of the gut microbiome ever since I participated in the American Gut Project and received a list of bacteria present in my own gut. Because of this, I probably enjoyed this week’s papers more than any other papers we have read so far. I had no clue there was any correlation between an MHFD and autistic offspring, so the Buffington et. al paper really stood out to me. I enjoyed how much they built on their research (socializing MHFD and MRD rats, giving them L. Reuteri, counting oxytocin-expressing cells, etc) and I think this paper opened up a lot of possible routes for ASD treatment. What I found very promising was that the administration of L. Reuteri early on managed to rescue social endophenotypes. L. Reuteri is available in many fermented foods, and this paper suggests that perhaps exposing children to this bacteria at a young age (to fit into the critical time window Buffington presents) could be very beneficial. Looking at Table 1 I see that there are several other types of bacteria that MRD offspring have more of than MHFD offspring, and it would be interesting to test those in the same way that L. Reuteri was tested in a future experiment. Finally, I did find it a bit sad that an MHFD could have such detrimental results. In humans, a mother’s diet is controlled mostly by financial circumstances, so unfortunately keeping a diet low in fat during pregnancy is not feasible for everyone.
The Reber et. al paper was a bit less interesting to me because it investigated the links between gut bacteria and stress, which is a link I already knew existed (unlike autism). However, I appreciated how they investigated the link between M.Vaccae and things such as microglial density and serotonergic systems in the brain. By doing so, this paper presented a more convincing, direct link between the chosen bacteria and the brain. I do wish I had a bit more background knowledge on the topic, it would have helped me understand some of the things they were testing more.