A team of independent Adelaide Australia researchers has made a breakthrough in CFS (ME/CFS) research using new approaches to the analysis of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans of the brain.
Applying this to MRI scans of individuals with the much maligned chronic fatigue syndrome, they have discovered previously unsuspected changes in brain structure and function in CFS.
Said Dr Richard Kwiatek, lead clinician of the group:
“Whilst acknowledging that our results need to be independently confirmed, they show striking changes in the midbrain which plays critical and primitive regulatory roles in the nervous system.
“We now know why patients with CFS are so sick: it’s because a very basic and important control center in the brain is almost certainly affected. And this is without factoring in already known problems with their peripheral immune system.”
Traditionally, CFS sufferers have been viewed with suspicion by the medical and psychiatry establishments as the diagnosis of CFS is based on symptoms alone and no objective diagnostic test exists. Many individuals fight for years with insurance companies to be believed.
Although objective changes have previously been detected in CFS, they require sophisticated and expensive research techniques, are not found in all individuals with the condition, and are more likely a consequence of the disease rather than its cause.
“The beauty of our technique is that, at least at the group level, it clearly demonstrates a difference in the functioning of the CFS brain and that of healthy individuals.”
The Adelaide team’s study was funded by John T. Reid Charitable Trusts, supported by the Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation.
The article, "A brain MRI study of chronic fatigue syndrome: Evidence of brainstem dysfunction and altered homeostasis,” was published in preview Mar 2, and online May 11 by NMR in Biomedicine.
Dr Kwiatek is available for further comment on (08) 8267 1767.
Source: Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation news release, May 13, 2010