Research Digest 07/02/20

Welcome to the 40th Emerge Australia Research Digest, where you will find summaries of some of the latest research and information about ME/CFS, with links to the complete articles.

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Comprehensive Circulatory Metabolomics in ME/CFS Reveals Disrupted Metabolism of Acyl Lipids and Steroids.

Author: Germain, A., Barupal, D.K., Levine, S.M., Hanson, M.R.

In this study, metabolomics analysis of 1750 compounds was conducted on the plasma of 52 female participants, 26 ME/CFS patients and 26 healthy controls. This is the largest number of metabolites analysed in ME/CFS to date.

Results showed that acyl cholines, dipeptides, and three steroid classes (androgenic, progestin, and corticosteroids) were broadly reduced in ME/CFS cohorts compared with healthy controls.  Sphingolipids, which are possibly relevant to nervous system disruptions, were found to be increased in ME/CFS patients.

The authors note the inconsistency in results between this and previous studies and confirm that they have not found a diagnostic biomarker. They also suggest that the disturbances identified may be originating from dysfunction within an organ (such as muscles or brain), and that these disturbances may be diluted by the time they reach the plasma.

Overall, “disturbances in the metabolism of many of these molecules can be linked to the profound organ system symptoms endured by ME/CFS patients.”

The Prevalence of Pediatric Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a Community-Based Sample

Author: Jason, L.A., Katz, B.Z., Sunnquist, M., Torres, C., Cotler, J., Bhatia, S.

This paper examines the prevalence of ME/CFS in a paediatric population by a random sample at the community level, rather than relying on data from tertiary care centres which are often not reflective of all socioeconomic groups.

The prevalence of paediatric ME/CFS was 0.75%, with African American and Latinx youth being twice as likely to be undiagnosed as compared to Caucasians. Of the youth diagnosed with ME/CFS in the study, less than 5% had previously been diagnosed. This paper demonstrates the need to better identify and diagnose young people with ME/CFS.

Additional source:

Health-related quality of life in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: an Australian cross-sectional study

Author: Eaton-Fitch, N., Johnston, S.C., Zalewski, P., Staines, D., Marshall-Gradisnik, S.

This study examined the impact of sociodemographic and patient symptom characteristics on health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of Australians with ME/CFS. This was measured using the widely accepted SF-36 outcome measure.

The findings are the largest and most recent investigation of an Australian population reporting ME/CFS symptoms, using self-reported data from 480 ME/CFS patients. As predicted, HRQoL outcomes were significantly reduced in ME/CFS patients compared with general population norms, with lowest scores for physical role and energy fatigue. Low HRQoL scores were correlated with unemployment, cognitive deficits, sensory and sleep disturbances, flu-like symptoms and cardiovascular symptoms, confirming the wide ranging impact of ME/CFS on the HRQoL of those living with the condition.

Dr. Heidi Nicholl and Dr. Barbara de Graaff on ABC Radio Hobart talking about the ANCHOR project

Dr. Heidi Nicholl (CEO of Emerge Australia) and Dr. Barbara de Graaff (senior research fellow at the University of Tasmania) were interviewed on ABC Breakfast this week about the MRFF funded study into prevalence and health economics for people with ME/CFS. The project, a collaboration between UTAS, Emerge and Deakin University, will investigate the prevalence and economic impact of ME/CFS in Australia.

The interview starts at around 1 hour 42 minutes and runs for approximately 7 minutes.


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