Abstract: Prolonged acetylcholine-induced vasodilatation in the peripheral microcirculation of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2003 Sep;23(5):282-5.  Khan F, Spence V, Kennedy G, Belch JJ.  Vascular Diseases Research Unit, University Department of Medicine, Ninewells Hospital and Medical School, Dundee, UK.

Although the aetiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is unknown, there have been a number of reports of blood flow abnormalities within the cerebral circulation and systemic blood pressure defects manifesting as orthostatic intolerance. Neither of these phenomena has been explained adequately, but recent reports have linked cerebral hypoperfusion to abnormalities in cholinergic metabolism.

Our group has previously reported enhanced skin vasodilatation in response to cumulative doses of transdermally applied acetylcholine (ACh), implying an alteration of peripheral cholinergic function. To investigate this further, we studied the time course of ACh-induced vasodilatation following a single dose of ACh in 30 patients with CFS and 30 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects. No differences in peak blood flow was seen between patients and controls, but the time taken for the ACh response to recover to baseline was significantly longer in the CFS patients than in control subjects.

The time taken to decay to 75% of the peak response in patients and controls was 13.7 +/- 11.3 versus 8.9 +/- 3.7 min (P = 0.03), respectively, and time taken to decay to 50% of the peak response was 24.5 +/- 18.8 versus 15.1 +/- 8.9 min (P = 0.03), respectively.

Prolongation of ACh-induced vasodilatation is suggestive of a disturbance to cholinergic pathways, perhaps within the vascular endothelium of patients with CFS, and might be related to some of the unusual vascular symptoms, such as hypotension and orthostatic intolerance, which are characteristic of the condition.

PMID: 12950326 [PubMed – in process]

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