TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of recently published research abstracts | 4 December 2015


From Reviews on Environmental Health, 1 December 2015.

Review of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: an evidence-based approach to diagnosis and management by clinicians.

Bested AC, Marshall LM.

Abstract

This review was written from the viewpoint of the treating clinician to educate health care professionals and the public about Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). It includes: the clinical definition of ME/CFS with emphasis on how to diagnose ME/CFS; the etiology, pathophysiology, management approach, long-term prognosis and economic cost of ME/CFS.

After reading this review, you will be better able to diagnose and treat your patients with ME/CFS using the tools and information provided. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex, chronic medical condition characterized by symptom clusters that include: pathological fatigue and malaise that is worse after exertion, cognitive dysfunction, immune dysfunction, unrefreshing sleep, pain, autonomic dysfunction, neuroendocrine and immune symptoms.

ME/CFS is common, often severely disabling and costly. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) reviewed the ME/CFS literature and estimates that between 836,000 and 2.5 million Americans have ME/CFS at a cost of between 17 and 24 billion dollars annually in the US.

The IOM suggested a new name for ME/CFS and called it Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID). SEID’s diagnostic criteria are less specific and do not exclude psychiatric disorders in the criteria. The 2010 Canadian Community Health Survey discovered that 29% of patients with ME/CFS had unmet health care needs and 20% had food insecurity – lack of access to sufficient healthy foods.

ME/CFS can be severely disabling and cause patients to be bedridden. Yet most patients (80%) struggle to get a diagnosis because doctors have not been taught how to diagnose or treat ME/CFS in medical schools or in their post-graduate educational training. Consequently, the patients with ME/CFS suffer.

They are not diagnosed with ME/CFS and are not treated accordingly. Instead of compassionate care from their doctors, they are often ridiculed by the very people from whom they seek help.

The precise etiology of ME/CFS remains unknown, but recent advances and research discoveries are beginning to shed light on the enigma of this disease including the following contributors: infectious, genetic, immune, cognitive including sleep, metabolic and biochemical abnormalities.

Management of patients with ME/CFS is supportive symptomatic treatment with a patient centered care approach that begins with the symptoms that are most troublesome for the patient. Pacing of activities with strategic rest periods is, in our opinion, the most important coping strategy patients can learn to better manage their illness and stop their post-exertional fatigue and malaise. Pacing allows patients to regain the ability to plan activities and begin to make slow incremental improvements in functionality.


From NeuroImage: Clinical, 10 September 2015.

Less efficient and costly processes of frontal cortex in childhood chronic fatigue syndrome.

Mizuno K(1), Tanaka M(2), Tanabe HC(3), Joudoi T(4), Kawatani J(4), Shigihara Y(2), Tomoda A(5), Miike T(6), Imai-Matsumura K(7), Sadato N(8), Watanabe Y(9).
1) Pathophysiological and Health Science Team, RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies, 6-7-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0047, Japan ; Department of Medical Science on Fatigue, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-4-3 Asahimachi, Abeno-ku, Osaka City, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.
2) Department of Physiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-4-3 Asahimachi, Abeno-ku, Osaka City, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.
3) Department of Cerebral Research, Division of Cerebral Integration, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, 38 Nishigonaka, Myodaiji, Okazaki, Aichi 444-8585, Japan ; Department of Psychology, Graduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa-ku, Nagoya, Aichi 464-8601, Japan.
4) Department of Child Development, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1 Honjyo, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan.
5) Department of Child Development, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1 Honjyo, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan ; Research Center for Child Mental Development, University of Fukui, 23-3 Matsuoka-shimoaiduki, Eiheiji-cho, Fukui 910-1193, Japan.
6) Department of Child Development, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1 Honjyo, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan ; Hyogo Children’s Sleep and Development Medical Research Center, 1070 Akebono-cho, Nishi-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 651-2181, Japan.
7) Department of School Psychology, Developmental Science and Health Education, Hyogo University of Teacher Education, Graduate School in Science of School Education, 942-1 Shimokume, Kato, Hyogo 673-1494, Japan.
8) Department of Cerebral Research, Division of Cerebral Integration, National Institute for Physiological Sciences, 38 Nishigonaka, Myodaiji, Okazaki, Aichi 444-8585, Japan.
9) Pathophysiological and Health Science Team, RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies, 6-7-3 Minatojima-minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0047, Japan ; Department of Physiology, Osaka City University Graduate School of Medicine, 1-4-3 Asahimachi, Abeno-ku, Osaka City, Osaka 545-8585, Japan.

Abstract

The ability to divide one’s attention deteriorates in patients with childhood chronic fatigue syndrome (CCFS).

We conducted a study using a dual verbal task to assess allocation of attentional resources to two simultaneous activities (picking out vowels and reading for story comprehension) and functional magnetic resonance imaging. Patients exhibited a much larger area of activation, recruiting additional frontal areas.

The right middle frontal gyrus (MFG), which is included in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, of CCFS patients was specifically activated in both the single and dual tasks; this activation level was positively correlated with motivation scores for the tasks and accuracy of story comprehension.

In addition, in patients, the dorsal anterior cingulate gyrus (dACC) and left MFG were activated only in the dual task, and activation levels of the dACC and left MFG were positively associated with the motivation and fatigue scores, respectively.

Patients with CCFS exhibited a wider area of activated frontal regions related to attentional resources in order to increase their poorer task performance with massive mental effort. This is likely to be less efficient and costly in terms of energy requirements. It seems to be related to the pathophysiology of patients with CCFS and to cause a vicious cycle of further increases in fatigue.


From Medical Hypotheses, 16 October 2015 (full text available).

Myalgic encephalomyelitis, chronic fatigue syndrome: An infectious disease

R.A. Underhill
Independent researcher

Abstract

The etiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or ME/CFS has not been established. Controversies exist over whether it is an organic disease or a psychological disorder and even the existence of ME/CFS as a disease entity is sometimes denied. Suggested causal hypotheses have included psychosomatic disorders, infectious agents, immune dysfunctions, autoimmunity, metabolic disturbances, toxins and inherited genetic factors.

Clinical, immunological and epidemiological evidence supports the hypothesis that: ME/CFS is an infectious disease; the causal pathogen persists in patients; the pathogen can be transmitted by casual contact; host factors determine susceptibility to the illness; and there is a population of healthy carriers, who may be able to shed the pathogen.

ME/CFS is endemic globally as sporadic cases and occasional cluster outbreaks (epidemics). Cluster outbreaks imply an infectious agent. An abrupt flu-like onset resembling an infectious illness occurs in outbreak patients and many sporadic patients. Immune responses in sporadic patients resemble immune responses in other infectious diseases. Contagion is shown by finding secondary cases in outbreaks, and suggested by a higher prevalence of ME/CFS in sporadic patients’ genetically unrelated close contacts (spouses/partners) than the community. Abortive cases, sub-clinical cases, and carrier state individuals were found in outbreaks.

The chronic phase of ME/CFS does not appear to be particularly infective. Some healthy patient-contacts show immune responses similar to patients’ immune responses, suggesting exposure to the same antigen (a pathogen). The chronicity of symptoms and of immune system changes and the occurrence of secondary cases suggest persistence of a causal pathogen.

Risk factors which predispose to developing ME/CFS are: a close family member with ME/CFS; inherited genetic factors; female gender; age; rest/activity; previous exposure to stress or toxins; various infectious diseases preceding the onset of ME/CFS; and occupational exposure of health care professionals. The hypothesis implies that ME/CFS patients should not donate blood or tissue and usual precautions should be taken when handling patients’ blood and tissue.

No known pathogen has been shown to cause ME/CFS. Confirmation of the hypothesis requires identification of a causal pathogen. Research should focus on a search for unknown and known pathogens. Finding a causal pathogen could assist with diagnosis; help find a biomarker; enable the development of anti-microbial treatments; suggest preventive measures; explain pathophysiological findings; and reassure patients about the validity of their symptoms.

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