Food and Behaviour Research

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Human gut microbiome changes during a 10 week Randomised Control Trial for micronutrient supplementation in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder

Stevens AJ, Purcell RV, Darling KA, Eggleston MJF, Kennedy MA, Rucklidge JJ (2019) Sci Rep.  2019 Aug, 9, article no. 10128 DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-46146-3 

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It has been widely hypothesized that both diet and the microbiome play a role in the regulation of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) behaviour. However, there has been very limited scientific investigation into the potential biological connection.

We performed a 10-week pilot study investigating the effects of a broad spectrum micronutrient administration on faecal microbiome content, using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The study consisted of 17 children (seven in the placebo and ten in the treatment group) between the ages of seven and 12 years, who were diagnosed with ADHD.

We found that micronutrient treatment did not drive large-scale changes in composition or structure of the microbiome. However, observed OTUs significantly increased in the treatment group, and showed no mean change in the placebo group. The differential abundance and relative frequency of Actinobacteria significantly decreased post- micronutrient treatment, and this was largely attributed to species from the genus 

This was compensated by an increase in the relative frequency of species from the genus 
Collinsella. Further research is required to establish the role that Bifidobacterium contribute towards neuropsychiatric disorders; however, these findings suggest that micronutrient administration could be used as a safe, therapeutic method to modulate Bifidobacterium abundance, which could have potential implications for modulating and regulating ADHD behaviour.

Our pilot study provides an initial observation into this area of research, and highlights an interesting avenue for further investigation in a larger cohort. Furthermore, these novel results provide a basis for future research on the biological connection between ADHD, diet and the microbiome.