Intense media coverage has followed the publication of a study (read full text) from the University of California, San Diego reporting that ME/CFS has a distinct ‘metabolic signature’ that can accurately distinguish patients from healthy individuals.

Metabolomics is the study of the unique chemical fingerprints that cell processes leave behind, and the team headed by Prof Robert Naviaux (read more) found abnormalities in 20 metabolic pathways in the ME/CFS patients. As he says, the discovery of the chemical signature is evidence that ME/CFS “is an objective metabolic disorder that affects mitochondrial energy metabolism, immune function, GI function, the microbiome, the autonomic nervous system, neuroendocrine, and other brain functions.”

The publication of the paper was followed by an interesting Q&A session with Prof Robert Naviaux (read more). In answer to the question whether the discovery of a chemical signature helps shatter the myth that ME/CFS is ‘all in the mind’, the Professor replies: “Yes. The chemical signature that we discovered is evidence that CFS is an objective metabolic disorder that affects mitochondrial energy metabolism, immune function, GI function, the microbiome, the autonomic nervous system, neuroendocrine, and other brain functions. These 7 systems are all connected in a network that is in constant communication. While it is true that you cannot change one of these 7 systems without producing compensatory changes in the others, it is the language of chemistry and metabolism that interconnects them all.”