Scientific ‘Signatures’ for ME/CFS

Scientific 'Signatures' for ME/CFS
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These diverse research approaches are complementary, exciting signs that better results are to come.   Research has become more multidisciplinary in recent years, with the need to integrate findings in diverse fields.

Over the past year, CDC scientists have worked with experts in medicine, molecular biology, epidemiology, genomics, mathematics, engineering, and physics to analyze and interpret information gathered from 227 CFS patients. The information was gathered during a study in which volunteers spent two days in a hospital research ward. During this time, they underwent detailed clinical evaluations, measurement of sleep physiology, cognitive function, autonomic nervous system function, and extensive blood evaluations, including an assessment of the activity of 20,000 genes, in an attempt to identify factors that potentially cause or are related to CFS. Each group found results. USA’s CDC news and highlights on CFS


Biological markers

Scientists believe they have pinpointed biological markers of chronic fatigue syndrome which could help develop a test and treatment for the condition.


Towards a test!

Diagnostic Test for ME (CFS)


Another fine source of information:

Important Research abstract overviews, source CFIDS & CDC, USA


Bacterial & Viral Research:

USA’s CFIDS association site provides briefing on various factors
Preliminary confirmation of a newly discovered virus involved in CFIDS/ME
Neurotoxin Discovered in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Bacterial and Viral Co-Infections in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS/ME) Patients
A 37 kDa 2-5A binding protein as a potential biochemical marker for CFS – Abstract
Research Kills Theory That Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME is Psychosomatic
Chronic fatigue syndrome – Hit-and-run injury to the brain
Brain Metabolism Different in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Genetics, CFS genome mapped:

Proteins in CFS patients’ spinal cord fluid not detected in healthy individuals
Journal of Clinical Pathology, August 2005 – Jonathan Kerr’s genetic marker team
Chronic fatigue gene signs found, BBC report


Immune System Findings:

CFS may be rooted in distinct neurological abnormalities, US Study, Dec. 2, 2005
New Scientist, Chronic fatigue is not all in the mind


Blood flow:

Cardiac Insufficiency Hypothesis
Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Have Reduced Absolute Cortical Blood Flow
The role of the circulatory system in CFIDS, SPECT scans reveal impaired blood flow to the brain
Impaired Cardiac Output Linked to Severe CFS Cases

Scientific 'Signatures' for ME/CFS

New – the brain and energy metabolism regulation

THE ARGUMENT – In this paper the authors lay the foundation for their thesis that the brain not only regulates energy metabolism in the periphery but at times usurps it from the muscles and fat tissues found there. There are two very good reasons for the brain to be ‘selfish’ with regards to its energy needs; first, relative to its mass the brain uses far more energy than any other organ; thus, while the brain is a not particularly large organ its energy needs are very high; Second, despite its large energy needs the brain has trouble producing and storing energy. While the peripheral organs can metabolize glucose, fat or proteins to produce energy, the restrictions the blood brain barrier (BBB) places on the transport of substances to the brain, leaves it almost exclusively dependent upon glucose as its energy source. Since the brain has only a very limited ability to store energy it must ensure it receives a constant flow of glucose. In order to do this it constantly monitors its own energy levels and the energy demands of the periphery and when necessary takes energy from the rest of the body.

The authors believe that reductions in ATP concentrations in the brain activate a stress program that increases the allocation of glucose to the brain and decreases the amount of glucose taken up in the periphery. At the same time it does this it activates the feeding centers of the brain and gives the signal to eat. The authors argue that the plasticity of the brain enables it to create differing ‘set points’ for its own energy needs. Too high a ‘set point’ will cause the brain to continually pull glucose from the periphery and result in anorexia. Too low a set point will result in reduced brain energy levels, increased glucose levels in the periphery and obesity.


The best US news in years:

A special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Pharmacogenomics features 14 papers about chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The series of reports is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s CFS Computational Challenge (referred to as C3), a unique effort to bring diverse perspectives to the analysis of a huge data set based on numerous evaluations of 227 CFS patients and controls. Twenty researchers applied cutting edge techniques in medicine, genomics, engineering, computer science, physics and other disciplines. They link CFS to high allostatic load and genes related to the glucocortocoid receptor and sympathetic nervous system activity.
For more information, visit the US CFIDS site at:


British scientists map CFS genome

Dr Gow, a senior lecturer in clinical neuroscience at the university, mapped all 33,000 genes in CFS sufferers and then compared them with the genes of healthy people.

Dr Gow, who works at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, said they found CFS sufferers had a particular kind of “unusual gene expression”.

“This means the genes are switched on or off at an inappropriate time. We have identified a number of genes that are wrongly switched on,” he said. “It looks like the immune system is working overtime when it shouldn’t be, making the patient tired.”



For years ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) has been mocked as the ‘yuppie flu’ suggesting that sufferers are all middle class neurotics. However, the results of Professor De Meirleir’s Ł3 million research offer a powerful case for ME being a biological, not a psychological problem.

The professor, who is an advisor to the US and Canadian governments on ME, told the conference at Queen’s University, Belfast that the difficulty of the disease is that it is not one but several conditions.

He described how there are three main sub-groups of the disease, from mild to severe, with a variety of symptoms. But the factor that is common to them all is a disordered immune system.

“Innate immunity dysfunction would be a more accurate name for CFS,” he said. Professor De Meirleir described how there are a number of different mechanisms which trigger the condition, but he has no doubt that CFS is an immune disorder. “No two people have the same disorder,” he said.

“In some people it is stress plus exposure to heavy metals. In other cases people may have had a long-standing stress plus a viral infection which wasn’t treated properly.”

The professor offered hope to many sufferers that if CFS is diagnosed in its early stages it can be treated with the right combination of therapies. However, the most severe cases who suffer for more than 10 years can suffer permanent damage to their immune system which greatly enhances their risk of cancer.

“The pathology of the disease is not a mystery anymore,” he said.

“The Americans have now worked out the entire genome of CFS. Unsurprisingly, all the genes are related to the immune system. We can say for certain that CFS is an immune disorder.