REVIEW ARTICLESGut–brain axis in the executive function of austism spectrum disorderRoman, Pabloa,b; Rueda-Ruzafa, Lolac; Cardona, Dianaa; Cortes-Rodríguez, Aldaa Author Information aDepartment of Nursing Science, Physiotherapy and Medicine, University of Almería, Almería bDepartment of Nursing, Universitat Jaume I, Castellón cDepartment of Functional Biology and Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology- CINBIO, University of Vigo, Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain Correspondence to Diana Cardona, PhD, Edificio de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad de Almería, Ctra. Sacramento s/n, 04120 La Cañada de San Urbano, Almería, Spain E-mail: [email protected] Behavioural Pharmacology: October 2018 - Volume 29 - Issue 7 - p 654-663 doi: 10.1097/FBP.0000000000000428 Buy Metrics Abstract Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impaired communication and social interactions, and repetitive behavioural patterns. These patterns are believed to be dysfunctional symptoms in executive processing, which impact other cognitive functions such as attention or cognitive flexibility. In recent years, several studies have shown that certain intestinal bacteria may play a role in shaping cognitive networks encompassing emotional and social domains. A microbiota–gut–brain axis is known to exist, establishing several mechanisms by which microbiota may modulate brain development, function and behaviour, including immune, endocrine and neural pathways. As the aetiology of ASD is largely unknown, some studies have shown that intestinal bacteria may be involved in its pathogenesis. The aim of this review was to focus on the role of the gut–brain axis in ASD and, specifically, on its role in executive functions. First, we summarize the relationship between the gastrointestinal and cognitive symptoms of ASD patients. In addition, we highlight the evidence that supports and emphasizes the involvement of gut microbiota, and the putative underlying mechanisms in this population. Finally, we present evidence from preclinical and clinical studies on the modulation of microbiota and their effects on cognitive symptoms, specifically in relation to executive function. In conclusion, manipulation of microbiota could be a positive intervention to improve ASD symptoms. However, more research evaluating the role of microbiota in the cognitive symptoms ASD is needed. Copyright © 2018 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.