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New Research: Analysis of DNA from Plasma of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients

  [ 124 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 8, 2003

Research Abstract Title: Analysis of 16S rRNA gene sequences and circulating cell-free DNA from plasma of chronic fatigue syndrome and non-fatigued subjects

Authors: Suzanne D Vernon, Sanjay K Shukla, Jennifer Conradt, Elizabeth R Unger and William C Reeves

Source: BMC Microbiology 2002 2:39 (published 23 December 2002)

Abstract (provisional)


The association of an infectious agent with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has been difficult and is further complicated by the lack of a known lesion or diseased tissue. Cell-free plasma DNA could serve as a sentinel of infection and disease occurring throughout the body.

This type of systemic sample coupled with broad-range amplification of bacterial sequences was used to determine whether a bacterial pathogen was associated with CFS. Plasma DNA from 34 CFS and 55 non-fatigued subjects was assessed to determine plasma DNA concentration and the presence of bacterial 16S ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences.


DNA was isolated from 81 (91%) of 89 plasma samples. The 55 non-fatigued subjects had higher plasma DNA concentrations than those with CFS (average 151 versus 91 ng) and more CFS subjects (6/34, 18%) had no detectable plasma DNA than non-fatigued subjects (2/55, 4%), but these differences were not significant.

Bacterial sequences were detected in 23 (26%) of 89. Only 4 (14%) CFS subjects had 16S rDNA sequences amplified from plasma compared with 17 (32%) of the non-fatigued (P = 0.03). All but 1 of the 23 16S rDNA amplicon-positive subjects had five or more unique sequences present.


CFS subjects had slightly lower concentrations or no detectable plasma DNA than non-fatigued subjects. There was a diverse array of 16S rDNA sequences in plasma DNA from both CFS and non-fatigued subjects.

There were no unique, previously uncharacterized or predominant 16S rDNA sequences in either CFS or non-fatigued subjects. Uncharacterized prokaryotic sequences found.

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