TGI Friday! Latest ME/CFS research study abstracts, 9 September 2011

September 9, 2011

Our weekly summary of research abstracts received this week that have not already appeared on the MEA website.

Three additional subjects this week are:

* Glutathione peroxidase activity
* Gynaecological conditions associated with ME/CFS
* Hypothalamic-pituitary-axis dysfunction and hypocortisolaemia


Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2011;32(2):133-40.

Lower whole blood glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activity in depression, but not in myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome: another pathway that may be associated with coronary artery disease and neuroprogression in depression.

Maes M, Mihaylova I, Kubera M, Uytterhoeven M, Vrydags N, Bosmans E.
Piyavate Hospital, Bangkok, Thailand, Thailand.



Major depression and myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are two disorders accompanied by an upregulation of the inflammatory and oxidative and nitrosative (IO&NS) pathways and a decreased antioxidant status. Moreover, depression is accompanied by disorders in inflammatory and neuroprogressive (IN-PRO) pathways.


This study examines whole blood glutathione peroxidase (GPX) in depression and in ME/CFS; GPX is an enzyme that reduces hydroperoxides by oxidizing glutathione and consequently protects the cells from oxidative damage. Blood was sampled in 39 patients with depression, 40 patients with ME/CFS and 24 normal volunteers. Whole blood was analysed for GPX activity using the Ransel assay (Randox). Severity of illness was measured by means of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Rating Scale (FF scale).


We found that whole blood GPX activity was significantly (p=0.001) lower in depressed patients than in normal controls and that there were no significant differences between ME/CFS and controls. In depression and ME/CFS, there were significant and inverse relationships between GPX activity and the FF items, depressed mood and autonomic symptoms. In depression, there were significant and negative correlations between whole blood GPX and the HDRS score and autonomic symptoms.


The results show that lowered whole blood GPX activity contributes to the lowered antioxidant status in depression. Since GPX activity is a predictor of neuroprogression and coronary artery disease (CAD), lowered GPX activity in depression contributes to the IN-PRO pathways and the comorbidity between depression and CAD. Our results suggest that patients with depression would benefit from Ebselen or a supplementation with glutathione, N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine and selenium.


J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Jan;20(1):21-8. Epub 2010 Nov 20.

Gynecological history in chronic fatigue syndrome: a population-based case-control study.

Boneva RS, Maloney EM, Lin JM, Jones JF, Wieser F, Nater UM, Heim CM, Reeves WC.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.



Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects disproportionately more women than men, and the condition is more common at perimenopause. We examined gynecological history events as risk factors for CFS.


In a case-control study from a randomly selected population sample from Wichita, Kansas, 36 women with CFS and 48 nonfatigued controls, of similar age, race, and body mass index (BMI), answered a structured gynecological history questionnaire.


CFS cases and controls had the same mean age (51 years) and age at menarche (12 years). Overall, a greater proportion of women with CFS than controls reported pelvic pain unrelated to menstruation (22.2% vs. 1.7%, p = 0.004), endometriosis (36.1% vs. 16.7, %, p = 0.046), and periods of amenorrhea (53.9 % vs. 46.2%, p = 0.06). Compared to controls, women in the CFS group had a higher mean number of pregnancies (2.8 vs 2.0, p = 0.05) and gynecological surgeries (1.8 vs. 1.1, p = 0.05). Similar proportions of the CFS (69.4%) and control (72.9%) groups were menopausal. Although menopausal women in the CFS and control groups had similar mean age (55.5 and 55.8, respectively), menopause occurred about 4.4 years earlier in the CFS group (41.7 years vs. 46.1 years, respectively, p = 0.11). Among menopausal women, 76% of the CFS group reported hysterectomy vs. 54.6% of controls (p = 0.09), and 56% of women with CFS reported oophorectomy vs. 34.3% of controls (p = 0.11).


The higher prevalence of gynecological conditions and gynecological surgeries in women with CFS highlights the importance of evaluating gynecological health in these patients and the need for more research to clarify the chronologic and the pathophysiological relationships between these conditions and CFS.


Biol Psychol. 2011 May;87(2):183-94. Epub 2011 Feb 18.

Meta-analysis and meta-regression of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in functional somatic disorders.

Tak LM, Cleare AJ, Ormel J, Manoharan A, Kok IC, Wessely S, Rosmalen JG.
Interdisciplinary Center for Psychiatric Epidemiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.


Dysfunction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is the most investigated biological risk marker in functional somatic disorders (FSDs), such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia (FM), and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Our aim was to assess whether there is an association between basal hypocortisolism and FSD and to identify potential moderators of this association. Meta-analysis on 85 studies revealed that although basal cortisol levels were generally lower in FSD subjects compared to controls, this association did not reach statistical significance (SMD -0.07, 95% CI -0.17 to 0.04, p=0.241). However, when the three FSD were assessed separately, statistically significant basal hypocortisolism was observed in CFS subjects compared to controls (SMD -0.14, 95% CI -0.28 to 0.00, p=0.047), but not in FM or IBS. When all potential moderators were entered into a meta-regression analysis, only type of FSD and female gender were significant independent predictors of basal hypocortisolism. In conclusion, we did not find evidence to consider all three main FSD as hypocortisolemic disorders, as significant reduction in basal cortisol compared to healthy controls was only found in CFS and in females with FM, but not in IBS.

1 thought on “TGI Friday! Latest ME/CFS research study abstracts, 9 September 2011”

  1. Firstly, it would be good if all those “equal signs” in the second abstract could be fixed up. I imagine it would confuse some people. They are simply “equal signs” i.e. first one should say p=0.004 (I have the full paper; there is no “less than” or “greater than” signs in the abstract).

    Unfortunately the second study uses the so-called “empiric” criteria which 2.54% of the US population satisfy i.e. it’s an overly broad definition that is pretty rubbish, much worse than just the Fukuda.

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