Research Digest 28/06/19

Welcome to the 26th 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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Resting-state functional connectivity, cognition, and fatigue in response to cognitive exertion: A novel study in adolescents with chronic fatigue syndrome

Authors: Josev E, Malpas C, Seal M, Scheinberg A, Lubitz L, Rowe K, Knight S.


A new study from researchers in Melbourne, Australia, examines mental function in adolescent brains among ME/CFS patients, compared to healthy controls after cognitive exertion. The study uses magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to examine resting state functions of the brain, to gauge the effects of cognitive exertion on the brain.

Overall, the results found that adolescents with ME/CFS and healthy controls use the same amount of energy to do mental tasks.

However, ME/CFS adolescents reported consistently higher subjective fatigue and under-performed in cognitive speed, sustained attention and new learning, compared to healthy controls. This suggests that ME/CFS patients may start to access energy reserves at a lower starting point when undergoing mental tasks, compared to healthy controls.

Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome show increased hsCRP compared to healthy controls

Authors: Groven N, Fors E, Reitan S.


ME/CFS and fibromyalgia (FM) have features that resemble inflammatory disorders. This study examines the level of the inflammatory marker high-sensitivity CRP (hsCRP) in ME/CFS and FM patients, compared to healthy controls.

Results showed that both ME/CFS and FM patients have significantly higher levels of hsCRP, compared to healthy controls, even when taking into consideration other factors, such as age, smoking and body mass index (BMI). No distinction in hsCRP between the ME/CFS and FM group was found.

Altered microbiome composition in individuals with fibromyalgia

Author: Minerbi A, Gonzalez E, Brereton N, Anjarkouchian A, Dewar K, Fitzcharles M, Chevalier S, Shir Y.


Patients with fibromyalgia (FM) and ME/CFS share similar symptoms of widespread pain, fatigue and impaired sleep. Researchers have found significant differences in the microbiome of people with FM and healthy controls. The human microbiome refers to the bacteria and other microbes that live in the human body.

Patients with FM were found to have less butyrate-metabolising bacteria compared to healthy controls. Butyrate is an acid found in the human body and helps digestion. Increased levels of butyrate in patients’ blood verified this finding, meaning that the butyrate was not being metabolised fully.

Overall, this study could provide clues towards finding a diagnostic test for people with FM.

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