Toward a clearer diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome

April 4, 2014
Toward a clearer diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome
Neuroinflammation of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis Credit: CFS/ME

Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies, in collaboration with Osaka City University and Kansai University of Welfare Sciences, have used functional PET imaging to show that levels of neuroinflammation, or inflammation of the nervous system, are higher in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome than in healthy people.

Chronic fatigue syndrome, which is also known as , is a debilitating condition characterized by chronic, profound, and disabling fatigue. Unfortunately, the causes are not well understood.

Neuroinflammation - the inflammation of nerve cells - has been hypothesized to be a cause of the condition, but no has been put forth to support this idea. Now, in this clinically important study, published in The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, the researchers found that indeed the levels of neuroinflammation markers are elevated in CFS/ME patients compared to the healthy controls.

The researchers performed PET scanning on nine people diagnosed with CFS/ME and ten healthy people, and asked them to complete a questionnaire describing their levels of fatigue, cognitive impairment, pain, and depression. For the PET scan they used a protein that is expressed by microglia and astrocyte cells, which are known to be active in neuroinflammation.

The researchers found that neuroinflammation is higher in CFS/ME patients than in . They also found that inflammation in certain areas of the brain - the cingulate cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, thalamus, midbrain, and pons - was elevated in a way that correlated with the symptoms, so that for instance, patients who reported impaired cognition tended to demonstrate neuroinflammation in the amygdala, which is known to be involved in cognition. This provides clear evidence of the association between neuroinflammation and the symptoms experienced by with CFS/ME.

Though the study was a small one, confirmation of the concept that PET scanning could be used as an objective test for CFS/ME could lead to better diagnosis and ultimately to the development of new therapies to provide relief to the many people around the world afflicted by this condition.

Dr. Yasuyoshi Watanabe, who led the study at RIKEN, stated, "We plan to continue research following this exciting discovery in order to develop objective tests for CFS/ME and ultimately ways to cure and prevent this debilitating disease."

Explore further: Chronic fatigue syndrome—a system under stress

More information: Yasuhito Nakatomi, Kei Mizuno, Akira Ishii, Yasuhiro Wada, Masaaki Tanaka, Shusaku Tazawa, Kayo Onoe, Sanae Fukuda, Joji Kawabe, Kazuhiro Takahashi, Yosky Kataoka, Susumu Shiomi, Kouzi Yamaguti, Masaaki Inaba, Hirohiko Kuratsune, Yasuyoshi Watanabe, "Neuroinflammation in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a 11C-(R)-PK11195 positron emission tomography study", The Journal of Nuclear Medicine, vol.55, No.6, 2014, DOI: 10.2967/jnumed.113.131045

Related Stories

Chronic fatigue syndrome—a system under stress

November 15, 2012
Australian researchers have discovered for the first time that reduced heart rate variability – or changes in heart beat timing – best predicts cognitive disturbances, such as concentration difficulties commonly reported ...

Study to reveal causes of chronic fatigue syndrome

December 22, 2011
Scientists at the University of Liverpool are the first to use a new laboratory technique that could reveal the causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome challenges patients, medical professionals

July 1, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- We all get a little tuckered out now and then, but when that tired feeling doesn’t go away with what’s considered normal rest and relaxation there are a myriad of medical conditions that can ...

B-lymphocyte depletion using the anti-CD20 antibody rituximab in chronic fatigue syndrome

October 20, 2011
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may be alleviated by the anti-cancer drug Rituximab, suggesting that the source of the disease could lie in the immune system, according to a new study published Oct. 19 in the online journal ...

Rat hippocampal neurons: An executor of neuroinflammation

July 15, 2013
Recent findings suggest that Toll-like receptor 4 expressed in the central nervous system, especially in glial cells, plays a vital role in neuroinflammation and neurodegenerative conditions. Traditional theory suggests that ...

Recommended for you

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

New insights into herpes virus could inform vaccine development

October 18, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered new insights into the mechanisms of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, as well as two antibodies that block the virus' entry into cells. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

Portable 3-D scanner assesses patients with elephantiasis

October 17, 2017
An estimated 120 million people worldwide are infected with lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic, mosquito-borne disease that can cause major swelling and deformity of the legs, a condition known as elephantiasis. Health-care ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.