The ME Association End of Week Research Round-up | 27 March 2020

March 28, 2020

Charlotte Stephens, Research Correspondent, ME Association.

We show below brief summaries of the research studies about ME/CFS that have been published in the last week, followed by the abstracts from those studies.

This information will be included in the monthly update to the central Research Index which is made freely available as a download at the end of every month.

You can also find the Index in the Research section of the website together with a list of Research Summaries from the ME Association that provide lay explanations of the more important and interesting work that has been published to date.

ME/CFS Research Published 21st – 27th March 2020

This week, 3 new research studies have been published:

  1. Researchers from Saudi Arabia identified ultrasmall bacteria, that would be missed in standard bacterial testing as they pass through filters, in the blood of some patients with ME. However, they were not present in enough patients to be used as a diagnostic marker (22 out of 124 samples). They concluded that further research is needed to determine the link, if any, between the presence of ultrasmall bacteria and disease.
  2. Italian researchers found that a combination of Nutraceuticals (Magnesium, CoQ10, vitamin D, alpha-lipoic-acid and tryptophan) and acupuncture are both effective options for the treatment of fibromyalgia.
  3. A study from researchers in Leicestershire examined men’s experiences of living with M.E/CFS, through interviews and photographs, to gain a greater understanding of the impact of the illness on their identity.

ME/CFS Research references and abstracts

1. Alharbi S (2020)
Isolation of ultrasmall (filterable) bacteria from patients suffering from ME, and patients and staff of a paediatric hospital.
Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences [Epub ahead of print].

A total of 108 blood samples obtained from 28 male and 80 female patients diagnosed with ME were diluted in sterile, Ringer’s Solution and forced (by suction) through 0.2 µm filters.

Of the 28 male samples, 4 yielded filterable bacteria and of the 80 female samples, 18 gave filterable bacteria; as a result, of the total of 124 samples, 22 yielded FB. Filterable (0.4 and 0.2, but not 0.1micron filterable) bacteria were also isolated from the nose throat and skin of paediatric patients and from the throat and skin of staff at an emergency paediatric hospital. The highest percentage of bacterial passage occurred through the largest (0.4 µm) pores.

The results show that ultrasmall bacteria occur in ME patients and in paediatric patients and nurses. The potential pathogenic role of such filterable bacteria is briefly discussed.

2. Vittorio S et al. (2020)
Comparison between Acupuncture and Nutraceutical Treatment with Migratens® in Patients with Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Prospective Randomized Clinical Trial.
Nutrients 12 (3).

Objectives: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic clinical condition characterized by pain, fatigue, altered sleep, and cognitive disturbances. The purpose of this study was to compare two alternative treatments (nutraceutical and acupuncture) in FMS patients through a randomized clinical trial.

Methods: A total of 60 FMS female patients were randomized for treatment with a nutritional combination containing coenzyme Q10, vitamin D, alpha-lipoic acid, magnesium, and tryptophan (Migratens® Group) or acupuncture treatment (Acupuncture Group) performed according the principles of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), both for 3 months. Changes in pain and in quality of life (QoL) measured with a Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Score-Revised (FIQ-R) and the Fibromyalgia Severity Scale (FSS) were performed at 1, 3, and 6 months after the start of treatments.

Results: A total of 55 patient completed the study (21 in the Migratens® Group and 34 in the Acupuncture Group). Migratens® treatment shows a statistically significant reduction of pain 1 month after the start of therapy (T1, p = 0.025), strengthened after 3 months with maintenance of treatment (p = 0.012). The efficacy in reducing pain was apparent in the Acupuncture Group at all post-treatment determinations and at follow-up (T1 and T2 p = <0.001). Regarding QoL, improvement in FIQ-R and FSS values was revealed in both groups.

Conclusion: The nutraceutical approach with Migratens® seems to be an effective option to for patients with FMS. Our experience confirmed also the validity of acupuncture in these patients. Considering the complexity of the management of FMS patients, our results suggest a cyclical and sequential, or even concurrent treatment with different approaches, to improve the efficacy and the compliance of patients to long-term treatment.

3. Wilde L et al. (2020)
“The real me shining through M.E.”: Visualizing masculinity and identity threat in men with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome using photovoice and IPA.
Psychology of Men & Masculinities, 21(2), 309–320.

Phenomenological research in the context of myalgic encephalomyelitis (M.E.) or chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) has predominantly explored women’s accounts. Due to the paucity of research highlighting men’s experiences of living with M.E./CFS, the aim of this research was to explore their visual and verbal accounts to gain a more in-depth understanding of how they make sense of their diagnosis and dual identity as a man with a stigmatized, and often misunderstood, chronic illness.

Working within a critical health psychology framework, the study used a phenomenological approach and an adapted version of photovoice to gather and interrogate self-authored photographs and interview accounts from 10 men living with M.E./CFS.

An interpretative phenomenological analysis of the integrated visual and verbal data led to the development of three themes: “Loss of Masculine Identity as a Man with M.E./CFS,” “Marginalization attached to M.E./CFS and Masculinity” and “Coping with Dual Identity by Adjustments, Assimilation, and Acceptance.”

The findings show how men with M.E./CFS cope with identity threat across personal, social, and cultural contexts, while making adaptations in their perceptions and performances of masculinity. We argue that participant-authored photographs could be used by researchers, activists, and practitioners to facilitate increased understanding of and support for men with M.E./CFS.

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