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Muscle fibre characteristics & lactate responses to exercise in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

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By Lane RJ, Barrett MC, Woodrow D, Moss J, Fletcher R, Archard LC • • March 2, 1998

OBJECTIVES: To examine the proportions of type 1 and type 2
muscle fibres and the degree of muscle fibre atrophy and
hypertrophy in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome in
relation to lactate responses to exercise, and to determine to
what extent any abnormalities found might be due to
inactivity. METHODS: Quadriceps needle muscle biopsies were
obtained from 105 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and
the proportions of type 1 and 2 fibres and fibre atrophy and
hypertrophy factors were determined from histochemical
preparations, using a semiautomated image analysis system.
Forty one randomly selected biopsies were also examined by
electron microscopy. Lactate responses to exercise were
measured in the subanaerobic threshold exercise test (SATET).
RESULTS: Inactivity would be expected to result in a shift to
type 2 fibre predominance and fibre atrophy, but type 1
predominance (23%) was more common than type 2 predominance
(3%), and fibre atrophy was found in only 10.4% of cases.
Patients with increased lactate responses to exercise did have
significantly fewer type 1 muscle fibres (p<0.043 males,
p<0.0003 females), but there was no evidence that this group
was less active than the patients with normal lactate
responses. No significant ultrastructural abnormalities were
found. CONCLUSION: Muscle histometry in patients with chronic
fatigue syndrome generally did not show the changes expected
as a result of inactivity. However, patients with abnormal
lactate responses to exercise had a significantly lower
proportion of mitochondria rich type 1 muscle fibres.

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