Style & ShowbizHealth

Chronic fatigue syndrome linked to gut bacteria

Chronic fatigue syndrome linked to gut bacteria

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has been linked to gut bacteria.

Contrary to common perception, chronic fatigue syndrome may not be psychological in origin, as researchers have now identified biological markers of the disease in gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood. CFS causes persistent exhaustion that affects everyday life and doesn't go away with sleep or rest. It's estimated around 250,000 people in the U.K. have CFS, and while anyone can get the condition, it's more common in women than men.

Scientists at Cornell University have been investigating the disease and in a report have described how they correctly diagnosed myalgic encephalomyeletis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) in 83 per cent of patients through stool samples and blood work, offering a non-invasive diagnosis and a step toward understanding the cause of the disease.

"Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome in chronic fatigue syndrome patients isn't normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms in victims of the disease," said Professor Maureen Hanson, senior author of the paper. "Furthermore, our detection of a biological abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin."

In the study, the researchers recruited 48 people diagnosed with ME/CFS and 39 healthy controls to provide stool and blood samples. The researchers sequenced regions of microbial DNA from the stool samples to identify different types of bacteria.

Overall, the diversity of types of bacteria was greatly reduced and there were fewer bacterial species known to be anti-inflammatory in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome compared with healthy people, an observation also seen in people with Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.

Study co-author Ludovic Giloteaux added that researchers discovered specific markers of inflammation in the blood, likely due to a leaky gut from intestinal problems that allow bacteria to enter the blood.

In the future, the research team will look for evidence of viruses and fungi in the gut, to see whether one of these or an association of these along with bacteria may be causing or contributing to the illness.

The study was first published in journal Microbiome.

Cover Media