TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of recently published research abstracts and related items | 15 August 2014

From European Psychiatry, 1 August 2014. Abstract presented to the 22nd European Congress of Psychiatry in Munich, 1-4 March 2014.

EPA-0907 – Perceived illness risk in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) and asthma

M. Martin, I. Alexeeva
Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom,
C.N.G. Dawes



Most people perceive their own future as more positive than the average person’s. This optimistic bias may be a concern if it leads to people misjudging health threats and therefore the need for taking preventative steps.


To investigate the generality of recent observations of a reverse, pessimistic bias (i.e., perceiving oneself to be more at risk) in people with Irritable E.


The aims are to discover if a pessimistic bias is also found in another psychosomatic condition (CFS/ME) or in another chronic illness (Asthma).


CFS/ME and Asthma patients were compared with healthy controls (matched in age and sex) for their perceived risks of health threats (e.g., arthritis) and threats (e.g., being burgled), for self and for others.


The results for the 3 groups are shown in the graph.

People with CFS/ME tend towards the possession of a pessimistic bias with regard to health threat, but towards an optimistic bias with regard to physical Asthma group tend towards a pessimistic bias with regard to health threat, but tend to be neither optimistic nor pessimistic with regard to physical threat. control group tend towards an optimistic bias with regard to both health and physical threats. Thus, it appears that people with a chronic condition tend toward pessimistic bias, as opposed to the optimistic bias found in the healthy. Materials devised to promote appropriate health-related behaviour may need to be the two different populations.

From PLoS One, 11 August 2014 (Full text available).

DNA Methylation Modifications Associated with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Wilfred C. de Vega (1), Suzanne D. Vernon (2), Patrick O. McGowan (3)
1) Centre for Environmental Epigenetics and Development, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, Canada,
2) Department of Biological Sciences, University of Toronto, Scarborough, ON, Canada, 3) Department of Cell and Systems Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a complex multifactorial disease that is characterized by the persistent presence of fatigue and other particular symptoms for a minimum of 6 months. Symptoms fail to dissipate after sufficient rest and have major effects on the daily functioning of CFS sufferers.

CFS is a multi-system disease with a heterogeneous patient population showing a wide variety of functional disabilities and its biological basis remains poorly understood. Stable alterations in gene function in the immune system have been reported in several studies of CFS.

Epigenetic modifications have been implicated in long-term effects on gene function, however, to our knowledge, genome-wide epigenetic modifications associated with CFS have not been explored.

We examined the DNA methylome in peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from CFS patients and healthy controls using the Illumina HumanMethylation450 BeadChip array, controlling for invariant probes and probes overlapping polymorphic sequences. Gene ontology (GO) and network analysis of differentially methylated genes was performed to determine potential biological pathways showing changes in DNA methylation in CFS.

We found an increased abundance of differentially methylated genes related to the immune response, cellular metabolism, and kinase activity.

Genes associated with immune cell regulation, the largest coordinated enrichment of differentially methylated pathways, showed hypomethylation within promoters and other gene regulatory elements in CFS.

These data are consistent with evidence of multisystem dysregulation in CFS and implicate the involvement of DNA modifications in CFS pathology.


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