NEW YORK, June 27 — In a small-scale study US researchers have reported for the first time the identification of biological markers of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) in gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood.
The findings are a step towards helping physicians understand the mystifying condition, which has no known triggers and has previously been thought by some to be psychosomatic.
Sufferers of the illness are often struck down by debilitating fatigue which can last for weeks after just a minor exertion and cannot be improved by rest. Other symptoms include fatigue even after sleep, muscle and joint pain, migraines and gastrointestinal problems.
Lengthy tests are often needed to diagnose the illness.
In this new study a team of researchers recruited 48 people diagnosed with diagnosed myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and 39 healthy controls, and asked all participants to provide stool and blood samples.
The researchers then analysed the microbial DNA from these stool samples to identify different types of bacteria.
They found that in the ME/CFS group the diversity of the types of bacteria was much lower and with fewer anti-inflammatory species of bacteria than in the healthy control group.
In addition, they also found that the ME/CFS group had specific markers of inflammation in their blood, which triggers an immune response and can worsen symptoms.
From these stool samples and blood tests the team also correctly identified ME/CFS in 83 per cent of participants, which could also lead towards the development of a non-invasive method of diagnosis.
Commenting on the findings, senior author of the paper Maureen Hanson said, “Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome in ME/CFS patients isn’t normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms in victims of the disease.”
“Furthermore, our detection of a biological abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin.”
Although the team acknowledged that at the moment there is no evidence to prove whether the altered gut microbiome is a cause or a consequence of CFS, Ludovic Giloteaux, first author of the study, did comment that , “In the future, we could see this technique as a complement to other non-invasive diagnoses, but if we have a better idea of what is going on with these gut microbes and patients, maybe clinicians could consider changing diets, using prebiotics such as dietary fibres or probiotics to help treat the disease.”
The results were published online in the journal Microbiome. — AFP-Relaxnews