Metabolic abnormalities in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a mini-review


Cara Tomas and Julia Newton


Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University; Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), commonly known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is a debilitating disease of unknown etiology. CFS/ME is a heterogeneous disease associated with a myriad of symptoms but with severe, prolonged fatigue as the core symptom associated with the disease. There are currently no known biomarkers for the disease, largely due to the lack of knowledge surrounding the eitopathogenesis of CFS/ME. Numerous studies have been conducted in an attempt to identify potential biomarkers for the disease. This mini-review offers a brief summary of current research into the identification of metabolic abnormalities in CFS/ME which may represent potential biomarkers for the disease. The progress of research into key areas including immune dysregulation, mitochondrial dysfunction, 50-adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase activation, skeletal muscle cell acidosis, and metabolomics are presented here. Studies outlined in this mini-review show many potential causes for the pathogenesis of CFS/ME and identify many potential metabolic biomarkers for the disease from the aforementioned research areas. The future of CFS/ME research should focus on building on the potential biomarkers for the disease using multi-disciplinary techniques at multiple research sites in order to produce robust data sets. Whether the metabolic changes identified in this mini-review occur as a cause or a consequence of the disease must also be established.


Biochemical Society Transactions, 2018 Apr 17; 46(3):547–53


The authors thank the following funders: the Medical Research Council (MRC), Action for ME, ME Research UK, and the ME Association.

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