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Erythrocyte oxidative damage in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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[Note: Erythrocytes are red blood cells. Oxidative damage occurs when unstable molecules called "free radicals" steal electrons from normal molecules in a cell-corroding chain reaction.]

Journal: Archives of Medical Research. 2007 Jan;38(1):94-8. [E-publication 2006 Nov 3]

Authors and affiliation: Richards RS, Wang L, Jelinek H. School of Community Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, Charles Sturt University, NSW, Australia.

PMID: 17174731

Background: It has been hypothesized that a link exists between erythrocyte metabolism (particularly redox metabolism) and erythrocyte shape, and that both are related to erythrocyte deformability. The aim of this research is to confirm the results of earlier studies and to investigate a correlation between erythrocyte morphology [form or shape] and erythrocyte oxidative damage in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).

Methods: Reduced glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), methemoglobin (metHb) and 2,3-diphosphoglyceric acid (2,3-DPG) were measured in 31 patients suffering from CFS and 41 healthy control subjects. Scanning electron microscopic studies of the erythrocytes from both groups were also carried out.

Results: There was evidence of oxidative damage in CFS with statistically significant increases in 2,3-DPG (p <0.05), metHb (p <0.005) and MDA (p <0.01). The CFS patients in this study also had significantly more stomatocytes in their blood than the normal subjects (p <0.005). [Stomatocytes are deformed red blood cells that have lost the indentation on one side and have a pale center.]

Conclusions: There is a strong likelihood that the increase in erythrocyte antioxidant activity is associated with the presence of stomatocytes. The results of this study provide further evidence for the role of free radicals in the pathogenesis of CFS and a link between erythrocyte metabolism and erythrocyte shape.

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