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Brainstem Perfusion is Impaired in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 20 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • November 6, 1995

We looked for brain perfusion abnormalities in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). An initial pilot study revealed widespread reduction of regional brain perfusion in 24 ME/CFS patients, compared with 24 normal volunteers. Hypoperfusion of the brainstem (0.72 +/- 0.05 vs. 0.80 +/- 0.04, p < 0.0001) was marked and constant. We then tested whether perfusion to the brainstem in ME/CFS patients differs from that in normals, patients with major depression, and others with epilepsy. Data from a total of 146 subjects were included in the present study: 40 normal volunteers, 67 patients with ME/CFS (24 in the pilot study, 16 with no psychiatric disorders, 13 with ME/CFS and depression, 14 with ME/CFS and other psychiatric disorders), 10 epileptics, 20 young depressed patients and 9 elderly depressed individuals.

Brain perfusion ratios were calculated using 99Tcm-hexamethylpropylene amine oxime (99Tcm-HMPAO) and single-photon emission tomography (SPECT) with a dedicated three-detector gamma camera computer/system (GE Neurocam). Brain- stem hypoperfusion was confirmed in all ME/CFS patients. Furthermore, the 16 ME/CFS patients with no psychiatric disorders and the initial 24 patients in the pilot study showed significantly lower brainstem perfusion (0.71 +/- 0.03) than did depressed patients (0.77 +/- 0.03; ANOVA, p < 0.0001). Patients with ME/CFS have a generalized reduction of brain perfusion, with a particular pattern of hypoperfusion of the brainstem.

MCM: Used 3-head SPECT camera with Tc-HMPAO and found significantly lower relative brain stem perfusion in 16 CFS/ME pts (0.71 +- 0.03) compared to 20 depressed pts(0.77 +- 0.03)or 40 controls (0.80 +- 0.03).Pts w CFS plus depression had intermediate levels of reduction (0.71 and 0.75).

Costa DC, Tannock C, Brostoff J

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