Research Digest 22/03/19

Long-term follow up of young people with chronic fatigue syndrome attending a pediatric outpatient service

Author: Rowe K.


This study, put together by a team working out of Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital, reviews the long-term outcomes of ME/CFS among adolescents, aged between 6 and 18 years. A total of 784 participants from a specialist pediatric hospital were involved. The review found that in the 50% of those participants who reported recovery, the mean duration of the illness was five years.

The review determined that the most valuable intervention was management strategies that allowed the adolescent to take back some control over their life. These management strategies included symptom management, enjoyable social activities that built resilience, and an understanding health professional. Additionally, remaining engaged in the education system, which accommodates their condition and aspirations, was crucial for long-term functioning.

Overall, the study showed that for adolescents with ME/CFS, 68% of the cohort reported recovery by 10 years. All participants reported improvements, with 5% remaining very unwell and 20% significantly unwell.

Diagnostic sensitivity of 2-day cardiopulmonary exercise testing in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Authors: Nelson M, Buckley J, Thomson R, Clark D, Kwiatek R, Davison K.


Researchers in South Australia conducted a two-day cardiopulmonary exercise test (CPET) to determine the ventilatory threshold (VT) of people with ME/CFS. VT is when a person surpasses their normal breathing rate and is correlated with anaerobiosis, and lactate accumulation.

Results found that people with ME/CFS had a work rate (WR) and VT reduction from day 1 to day 2 of between 6.3% to 9.8%. The decrease in WR and VT may be used as an objective biomarker to assist ME/CFS diagnosis.

Higher prevalence of ‘low T3 syndrome’ in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. A case-control study.

Author: Ruiz-Nunez B, Tarasse R, Vogelaar E, Janneke Djick-Brouwer D, Muskiet F.


ME/CFS symptoms sometimes resemble a hypothyroid state. Researchers tested this hypothesis with 98 ME/CFS patients and 99 matching healthy controls. Results showed that 16/98 ME/CFS patients had similar test values as those with ‘low T3 syndrome’ compared to 7/99 healthy controls.

These findings may corroborate with results from studies that point to a hypometabolic state. ‘They resemble a mild form of ‘non-thyroidal illness syndrome’ and ‘low T3 syndrome’ experienced by a subgroup of hypothyroid patients receiving T4 monotherapy.’ If confirmed through additional research, T3 and iodide supplements may be applicable for a subgroup of ME/CFS patients.

Dr Heidi Nicholl and Professor Paul Fisher on ABC Radio Melbourne


As part of our symposium promotion, Emerge Australia CEO Dr Heidi Nicholl and Professor Paul Fisher of La Trobe University were featured on ABC Radio Melbourne with Allie Moore (filling in for Jon Faine).

The piece lasts for approximately 15 mins and we think it’s well worth a listen!

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