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Chronic fatigue syndrome[edit]

Main article: Neurology of ME/CFS

One six year longitudinal MRI study found that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (per Fukuda & Canadian Consensus Criteria) is associated with decreases in white matter, gray matter and blood volume deficits in the brain as compared to healthy controls.[1][2]

A 2017 study by Natelson, et al, showed that:

  • patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have higher brain ventricular lactate, more abnormal spinal fluids, lower brain glutathione, and reduced cerebral blood flow than controls,
  • psychiatric comorbidity does not influence any of these potential biological markers of CFS,
  • 50% of the patients had more than one of these abnormalities, and
  • a subgroup of CFS patients with brain abnormalities may have an underlying encephalopathy producing their illness.[3]



Notable studies[edit]

  • 2018, Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    Abstract - Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is characterized by chronic, profound, disabling, and unexplained fatigue; cognitive impairment; and chronic widespread pain. By using positron emission tomography, our study demonstrated neuroinflammation in the brain of patients with ME/CFS. Neuroinflammation was found to be widespread in the brain areas of the patients with ME/CFS and was associated with the severity of their neuropsychological symptoms. The ongoing research would lead to the establishment of objective diagnostic criteria and development of an appropriate therapy.[4]
  • 2017, Grey and white matter differences in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A voxel-based morphometry study
    "Abstract - OBJECTIVE: Investigate global and regional grey and white matter volumes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and recent voxel-based morphometry (VBM) methods. METHODS: Forty-two patients with CFS and thirty healthy volunteers were scanned on a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. Anatomical MRI scans were segmented, normalized and submitted to a VBM analysis using randomisation methods. Group differences were identified in overall segment volumes and voxel-wise in spatially normalized grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) segments. RESULTS: Accounting for total intracranial volume, patients had larger GM volume and lower WM volume. The voxel-wise analysis showed increased GM volume in several structures including the amygdala and insula in the patient group. Reductions in WM volume in the patient group were seen primarily in the midbrain, pons and right temporal lobe. CONCLUSION: Elevated GM volume in CFS is seen in areas related to processing of interoceptive signals and stress. Reduced WM volume in the patient group partially supports earlier findings of WM abnormalities in regions of the midbrain and brainstem."[5]
  • 2017, CNS findings in chronic fatigue syndrome and a neuropathological case report
    "Abstract - Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized as a persistent, debilitating complex disorder of unknown etiology, whereby patients suffer from extreme fatigue, which often presents with symptoms that include chronic pain, depression, weakness, mood disturbances, and neuropsychological impairment. In this mini review and case report, we address central nervous system (CNS) involvement of CFS and present neuropathological autopsy findings from a patient who died with a prior diagnosis of CFS. Among the most remarkable pathological features of the case are focal areas of white matter loss, neurite beading, and neuritic pathology of axons in the white matter with axonal spheroids. Atypical neurons displaying aberrant sprouting processes in response to injury are observed throughout cortical gray and white matter. Abundant amyloid deposits identical to AD plaques with accompanying intracellular granular structures are observed as well. Neurofibrillary tangles are also present in the white matter of the frontal cortex, thalamus and basal ganglia. Taken together, these neuropathological findings warrant further studies into CNS disease associated with CFS."[6]
  • 2016, Relative increase in choline in the occipital cortex in chronic fatigue syndrome
    "Abstract - OBJECTIVE: To test the hypothesis that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is associated with altered cerebral metabolites in the frontal and occipital cortices. METHOD: Cerebral proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS) was carried out in eight CFS patients and eight age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects. Spectra were obtained from 20 x 20 x 20 mm3 voxels in the dominant motor and occipital cortices using a point-resolved spectroscopy pulse sequence. RESULTS: The mean ratio of choline (Cho) to creatine (Cr) in the occipital cortex in CFS (0.97) was significantly higher than in the controls (0.76; P=0.008). No other metabolite ratios were significantly different between the two groups in either the frontal or occipital cortex. In addition, there was a loss of the normal spatial variation of Cho in CFS. CONCLUSION:Our results suggest that there may be an abnormality of phospholipid metabolism in the brain in CFS."[7]

Talks & interviews[edit]

Learn more[edit]


  1. Shan, ZY; Kwiatek, R; Burnet, R; Del Fante, P; Staines, DR; Marshall-Gradisnik, SM; Barnden, LR (2016-04-28), "Progressive brain changes in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: A longitudinal MRI study", Journal of magnetic resonance imaging: JMRI, PMID 27123773, doi:10.1002/jmri.25283 
  2. Jaime S (2016-05-05), "Progressive Brain Changes in Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Are our Brains Starved of Oxygen?", #MEAction 
  3. Natelson, Benjamin; Mao, Xiangling; Stegner, Aaron J; Lange, Gudrun; Vu, Diana; Blate, Michelle; Kang, Guoxin; Soto, Eli; Kapusuz, Tolga; Shungu, Dikoma C (2017), "Multimodal and simultaneous assessments of brain and spinal fluid abnormalities in chronic fatigue syndrome and the effects of psychiatric comorbidity", Journal of the Neurological Sciences, 375: 411-416, doi:10.1016/j.jns.2017.02.046 
  4. Nakatomi, Y; Kuratsune, H; Watanabe, Y (2018), "Neuroinflammation in the Brain of Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", Brain Nerve, 70 (1): 19-25, PMID 29348371, doi:10.11477/mf.1416200945 
  5. Finkelmeyer, Andreas; He, Jiabao; Maclachlan, Laura; Watson, Stuart; Gallagher, Peter; Newton, Julia L.; Blamire, Andrew M. (2018), "Grey and white matter differences in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – A voxel-based morphometry study", NeuroImage: Clinical, 17: 24-30, PMID 29021956, doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2017.09.024 
  6. Ferrero, Kimberly; Silver, Mitchell; Cocchetto, Alan; Masliah, Eliezer; Langford, Dianne (2017), "CNS findings in chronic fatigue syndrome and a neuropathological case report", Journal of Investigative Medicine, doi:10.1136/jim-2016-000390 

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From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history