Brain Metabolism Different in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Source: The CFS Research Review, Spring 2003, Volume 4 Issue 1 (published by the CFIDS Association of America)

Research from Scotland finds that patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) may show different metabolism characteristics than controls in the left basal ganglia region of the brain.

Eight patients with CFS and no psychiatric co-morbidity were tested for metabolic activity using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H MRS), a relatively new tool for measuring brain function. Compared to controls, the patient group showed elevated levels of choline-containing compounds in the basal ganglia.

This could be an indication of higher cell membrane turnover or changes in the signaling process between separate membranes, the study authors say. It is not understood why this may happen – although some researchers speculate that exposure to infectious agents or neurotoxins may result in such increased activity.

Study Reference: Chaudhuri A et al. “Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of basal ganglia in chronic fatigue syndrome.” NeuroReport. 2003;14(2):225-8.


Neuroreport. 2003 Feb 10;14(2):225-8. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy of basal ganglia in chronic fatigue syndrome.  Chaudhuri A, Condon BR, Gow JW, Brennan D, Hadley DM.  Department of Neurology, University of Glasgow, South Glasgow University Hospitals NHS Trust, UK.

Fatigue is a common symptom of neurological diseases that affect basal ganglia function. We used proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((1)H MRS) to study the metabolic functions of the basal ganglia in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) to test the hypothesis that fatigue in CFS may have a neurogenic component. (1)H MRS of left basal ganglia was carried out in eight non-psychiatric patients with CFS and their results were compared to age- and sex-matched healthy asymptomatic healthy controls. A highly significant increase in the spectra from choline-containing compounds was seen in the CFS patient group (p < 0.001). In the absence of regional structural or inflammatory pathology, increased choline resonance in CFS may be an indicator of higher cell membrane turnover due to gliosis or altered intramembrane signalling.

PMID: 12598734 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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