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Concept: Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Although some signs of inflammation have been reported previously in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), the data are limited and contradictory. High-throughput methods now allow us to interrogate the human immune system for multiple markers of inflammation at a scale that was not previously possible. To determine whether a signature of serum cytokines could be associated with ME/CFS and correlated with disease severity and fatigue duration, cytokines of 192 ME/CFS patients and 392 healthy controls were measured using a 51-multiplex array on a Luminex system. Each cytokine’s preprocessed data were regressed on ME/CFS severity plus covariates for age, sex, race, and an assay property of newly discovered importance: nonspecific binding. On average, TGF-β was elevated (P = 0.0052) and resistin was lower (P = 0.0052) in patients compared with controls. Seventeen cytokines had a statistically significant upward linear trend that correlated with ME/CFS severity: CCL11 (Eotaxin-1), CXCL1 (GROα), CXCL10 (IP-10), IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-5, IL-7, IL-12p70, IL-13, IL-17F, leptin, G-CSF, GM-CSF, LIF, NGF, SCF, and TGF-α. Of the 17 cytokines that correlated with severity, 13 are proinflammatory, likely contributing to many of the symptoms experienced by patients and establishing a strong immune system component of the disease. Only CXCL9 (MIG) inversely correlated with fatigue duration.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Asthma, Infection, Cytokines, Interleukin, Chemokine, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a disease of unknown etiology. We previously reported a pilot case series followed by a small, randomized, placebo-controlled phase II study, suggesting that B-cell depletion using the monoclonal anti-CD20 antibody rituximab can yield clinical benefit in ME/CFS.

Concepts: Lymphocyte, Medicine, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Leukemia, Fibromyalgia, Fatigue, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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More than 2 million people in the United States have myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). We performed targeted, broad-spectrum metabolomics to gain insights into the biology of CFS. We studied a total of 84 subjects using these methods. Forty-five subjects (n = 22 men and 23 women) met diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS by Institute of Medicine, Canadian, and Fukuda criteria. Thirty-nine subjects (n = 18 men and 21 women) were age- and sex-matched normal controls. Males with CFS were 53 (±2.8) y old (mean ± SEM; range, 21-67 y). Females were 52 (±2.5) y old (range, 20-67 y). The Karnofsky performance scores were 62 (±3.2) for males and 54 (±3.3) for females. We targeted 612 metabolites in plasma from 63 biochemical pathways by hydrophilic interaction liquid chromatography, electrospray ionization, and tandem mass spectrometry in a single-injection method. Patients with CFS showed abnormalities in 20 metabolic pathways. Eighty percent of the diagnostic metabolites were decreased, consistent with a hypometabolic syndrome. Pathway abnormalities included sphingolipid, phospholipid, purine, cholesterol, microbiome, pyrroline-5-carboxylate, riboflavin, branch chain amino acid, peroxisomal, and mitochondrial metabolism. Area under the receiver operator characteristic curve analysis showed diagnostic accuracies of 94% [95% confidence interval (CI), 84-100%] in males using eight metabolites and 96% (95% CI, 86-100%) in females using 13 metabolites. Our data show that despite the heterogeneity of factors leading to CFS, the cellular metabolic response in patients was homogeneous, statistically robust, and chemically similar to the evolutionarily conserved persistence response to environmental stress known as dauer.

Concepts: Protein, Amino acid, Metabolism, Adenosine triphosphate, Mass spectrometry, Biochemistry, Metabolic pathway, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Over the past 20 years, exposure to mycotoxin producing mold has been recognized as a significant health risk. Scientific literature has demonstrated mycotoxins as possible causes of human disease in water-damaged buildings (WDB). This study was conducted to determine if selected mycotoxins could be identified in human urine from patients suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Patients (n = 112) with a prior diagnosis of CFS were evaluated for mold exposure and the presence of mycotoxins in their urine. Urine was tested for aflatoxins (AT), ochratoxin A (OTA) and macrocyclic trichothecenes (MT) using Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assays (ELISA). Urine specimens from 104 of 112 patients (93%) were positive for at least one mycotoxin (one in the equivocal range). Almost 30% of the cases had more than one mycotoxin present. OTA was the most prevalent mycotoxin detected (83%) with MT as the next most common (44%). Exposure histories indicated current and/or past exposure to WDB in over 90% of cases. Environmental testing was performed in the WDB from a subset of these patients. This testing revealed the presence of potentially mycotoxin producing mold species and mycotoxins in the environment of the WDB. Prior testing in a healthy control population with no history of exposure to a WDB or moldy environment (n = 55) by the same laboratory, utilizing the same methods, revealed no positive cases at the limits of detection.

Concepts: Aflatoxin, Mycotoxin, Aspergillus, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins, Stachybotrys, Mold

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Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is relatively common and disabling. Over 8000 patients attend adult services each year, yet little is known about the outcome of patients attending NHS services. AIM: Investigate the outcome of patients with CFS and what factors predict outcome. DESIGN: Longitudinal patient cohort. METHODS: We used data from six CFS/ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) specialist services to measure changes in fatigue (Chalder Fatigue Scale), physical function (SF-36), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale) and pain (visual analogue pain rating scale) between clinical assessment and 8-20 months of follow-up. We used multivariable linear regression to investigate baseline factors associated with outcomes at follow-up.Results: Baseline data obtained at clinical assessment were available for 1643 patients, of whom 834 (51%) had complete follow-up data. There were improvements in fatigue [mean difference from assessment to outcome: -6.8; 95% confidence interval (CI) -7.4 to -6.2; P < 0.001]; physical function (4.4; 95% CI 3.0-5.8; P < 0.001), anxiety (-0.6; 95% CI -0.9 to -0.3; P < 0.001), depression (-1.6; 95% CI -1.9 to -1.4; P < 0.001) and pain (-5.3; 95% CI -7.0 to -3.6; P < 0.001). Worse fatigue, physical function and pain at clinical assessment predicted a worse outcome for fatigue at follow-up. Older age, increased pain and physical function at assessment were associated with poorer physical function at follow-up. CONCLUSION: Patients who attend NHS specialist CFS/ME services can expect similar improvements in fatigue, anxiety and depression to participants receiving cognitive behavioural therapy and graded exercise therapy in a recent trial, but are likely to experience less improvement in physical function. Outcomes were predicted by fatigue, disability and pain at assessment.

Concepts: Psychology, Clinical psychology, Fibromyalgia, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Fatigue, Prediction interval, Major depressive disorder, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is characterized by unexplained persistent fatigue, commonly accompanied by cognitive dysfunction, sleeping disturbances, orthostatic intolerance, fever, lymphadenopathy, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The extent to which the gastrointestinal microbiome and peripheral inflammation are associated with ME/CFS remains unclear. We pursued rigorous clinical characterization, fecal bacterial metagenomics, and plasma immune molecule analyses in 50 ME/CFS patients and 50 healthy controls frequency-matched for age, sex, race/ethnicity, geographic site, and season of sampling.

Concepts: Immune system, Infection, Constipation, Gastroenterology, Irritable bowel syndrome, Flatulence, Fibromyalgia, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Investigate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of the Lightning Process (LP) in addition to specialist medical care (SMC) compared with SMC alone, for children with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)/myalgic encephalitis (ME).

Concepts: Health care, Pharmacology, Medicine, Clinical trial, The Canon of Medicine, Randomized controlled trial, Avicenna, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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The PACE trial compared the effectiveness of adding adaptive pacing therapy (APT), cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), or graded exercise therapy (GET), to specialist medical care (SMC) for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. This paper reports the relative cost-effectiveness of these treatments in terms of quality adjusted life years (QALYs) and improvements in fatigue and physical function.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Illness, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Behaviorism, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Health informatics

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BACKGROUND: A multi-centre, four-arm trial (the PACE trial) found that rehabilitative cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) were more effective treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) than specialist medical care (SMC) alone, when each was added to SMC, and more effective than adaptive pacing therapy (APT) when added to SMC. In this study we compared how many participants recovered after each treatment. Method We defined recovery operationally using multiple criteria, and compared the proportions of participants meeting each individual criterion along with two composite criteria, defined as (a) recovery in the context of the trial and (b) clinical recovery from the current episode of the illness, however defined, 52 weeks after randomization. We used logistic regression modelling to compare treatments. RESULTS: The percentages (number/total) meeting trial criteria for recovery were 22% (32/143) after CBT, 22% (32/143) after GET, 8% (12/149) after APT and 7% (11/150) after SMC. Similar proportions met criteria for clinical recovery. The odds ratio (OR) for trial recovery after CBT was 3.36 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64-6.88] and for GET 3.38 (95% CI 1.65-6.93), when compared to APT, and after CBT 3.69 (95% CI 1.77-7.69) and GET 3.71 (95% CI 1.78-7.74), when compared to SMC (p values ⩽0.001 for all comparisons). There was no significant difference between APT and SMC. Similar proportions recovered in trial subgroups meeting different definitions of the illness. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that recovery from CFS is possible, and that CBT and GET are the therapies most likely to lead to recovery.

Concepts: Health care, Logit, Medicine, Clinical trial, Difference, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychotherapy, Chronic fatigue syndrome

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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex, multisystem disorder that can be disabling. CFS symptoms can be provoked by increased physical or cognitive activity, and by orthostatic stress. In preliminary work, we noted that CFS symptoms also could be provoked by application of longitudinal neural and soft tissue strain to the limbs and spine of affected individuals. In this study we measured the responses to a straight leg raise neuromuscular strain maneuver in individuals with CFS and healthy controls. We randomly assigned 60 individuals with CFS and 20 healthy controls to either a 15 minute period of passive supine straight leg raise (true neuromuscular strain) or a sham straight leg raise. The primary outcome measure was the symptom intensity difference between the scores during and 24 hours after the study maneuver compared to baseline. Fatigue, body pain, lightheadedness, concentration difficulties, and headache scores were measured individually on a 0-10 scale, and summed to create a composite symptom score. Compared to individuals with CFS in the sham strain group, those with CFS in the true strain group reported significantly increased body pain (P = 0.04) and concentration difficulties (P = 0.02) as well as increased composite symptom scores (all P = 0.03) during the maneuver. After 24 hours, the symptom intensity differences were significantly greater for the CFS true strain group for the individual symptom of lightheadedness (P = 0.001) and for the composite symptom score (P = 0.005). During and 24 hours after the exposure to the true strain maneuver, those with CFS had significantly higher individual and composite symptom intensity changes compared to the healthy controls. We conclude that a longitudinal strain applied to the nerves and soft tissues of the lower limb is capable of increasing symptom intensity in individuals with CFS for up to 24 hours. These findings support our preliminary observations that increased mechanical sensitivity may be a contributor to the provocation of symptoms in this disorder.

Concepts: Symptoms, Symptom, Tissues, Soft tissue, Fatigue, Post-concussion syndrome, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Straight leg raise