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Research Digest 10/01/20

Welcome to the 38th 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.

You can also join our community and choose to have the Digest delivered straight to your inbox every fortnight on a Friday afternoon by signing up at the bottom of this page. 

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Elevated blood lactate in resting conditions correlate with post-exertional malaise severity in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Author: Ghali, A., Lacout, C., Ghali, M., Gury, A., Beucher, A.,  Lozac’h, P., Lavigne, C.,  Urbanski, G.

Previous studies have indicated that ME/CFS patients have elevated levels of blood lactate after exercise. This study examines the lactate level of patients in a resting state and found that some patients had elevated levels.

Out of 123 patients examined, 45% had elevated levels and 55% were normal. In addition, results showed that those with elevated lactate levels at rest had a higher risk of experiencing more severe post-exertional malaise.

Transient receptor potential melastatin 2 channels are overexpressed in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients

Author: Balinas, C., Cabanas, H., Staines, D., Marshall-Gradisnik, S.

Reduction in natural killer (NK) cell cytotoxicity (the ability of immune cells to fight off pathogens) is a key characteristic in ME/CFS patients. In this small pilot study, Balinas et al examine the role of transient receptor potential melastatin 2 (TRPM2) channels and CD38 (a type of glycoprotein which affects cell signal) on NK cell cytotoxicity in ME/CFS, as well as the impact of two drug treatments on TRPM2 and NK cell function.

Results showed that baseline TRPM2, and TRPM2 and CD38 co-expression, were elevated in NK cells in ME/CFS patients as compared to healthy controls. There was no difference between ME/CFS patients and healthy controls when looking at CD38 expression on its own. The researchers suggest that, compared with the reduced function of TRPM3 channels which they have previously found in ME/CFS patients, elevated TRPM2 expressed may be a compensatory mechanism. However, they also note that NK cell function was reduced in patients, which may suggest impaired TRPM2 functioning.

No changes in NK cell cytotoxicity were detected post drug treatment for either ME/CFS patients or healthy control cells, which may reflect the lack of pharmaceutical agents available which specifically target TRPM2 channels. 

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome patients exhibit altered T cell metabolism and cytokine associations

Author: Mandarano AH, Maya J, Giloteaux L, Peterson DL, Maynard M, Gottschalk CG, Hanson MR.

In this study, Mandarano et al examined T cell metabolism and plasma cytokine levels of two isolated T cells, CD4+ and CD8+, from 53 ME/CFS patients and 45 healthy controls. In ME/CFS patients, compared with healthy controls, both cell types had reduced glycolysis at rest, and CD8+ had reduced glycolysis following activation as well as “reduced mitochondrial membrane potential”. Their data also indicates significant correlations between plasma cytokine abundance and T cell metabolism in ME/CFS patients that were different to healthy controls. Interestingly, “proinflammatory cytokines might be expected to be positively correlated with T cell metabolism, yet they were negatively correlated with ME/CFS patient T cell metabolism”.

The paper concludes that these results help to corroborate the fact that ME/CFS patients have altered immune function.

Patient and Researcher Dr Mark Guthridge on the ABC

Dr Mark Guthridge, Associate Professor of Biomedical science at Deakin University, was interviewed on ABC Evenings this week about his experience of living with ME/CFS. In this 25 minute interview, Dr Guthridge talks candidly with Tim Wong-See about his struggle to get a diagnosis, difficulty managing the illness, and his plans to contribute to ME/CFS research. 

The interview starts at around 2 hours 5 minutes. 


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