The weekly research round-up includes recent publications about ME/CFS and Long Covid. We highlight the studies that have particularly caught our interest and follow these with the full list of publications together with their abstracts (summaries).
The ME Association maintains a comprehensive index of published research on ME/CFS and Long Covid that is free to use and updated weekly.
Audio Commentary by Dr Katrina Pears
ME/CFS Research Published 17 – 23 May 2022
There have been three new ME/CFS studies and sixteen studies on Long Covid.
Two of the research papers this week are in Japanese so we can only read their abstracts (summaries) and cannot analyse these any further. Therefore, there is only one ME/CFS paper we can highlight this week:
Paper one (1) while not directly on ME/CFS is on post-acute infection syndromes (PAIS), where the onset of ME/CFS is typically seen to follow an infection. This research is a very detailed review on the role of infection and specifically highlights how Covid-19 is not alone in its ability to cause long term illness. Other PAISs covered in this study, include: Ebola, EBV, Q fever, and Lyme Disease.
The review has sections dedicated to ME/CFS, with this theme running throughout. There is also a section on “limitations and methodological obstacles” where the lack of biomedical research is discussed and the barriers to good quality research, as such: relying on self-reported measures in studies, differing diagnostic criteria as well as the use of appropriate control groups (i.e. sedentary controls).
The lead author for this review is Jan Choutka who is an ME/CFS advocate in the Czech Republic, with an excellent background to critique research and give an insightful opinion. The full study is published in a very high-end journal (Nature) and is well balanced and easy to read with summary boxes of the key points, making this a very good learning tool as well. Obviously, there is room to have a much longer and detailed review, but I should think this fills the word limit! I hope this review can be used in medical training or help inform future studies on the whole range of post infection syndromes that exist.
ME/CFS Research References and Abstracts
Choutka J, Jansari V, Hornig M, Iwasaki A.
Nat Med. 2022 May;28(5):911-923. [Epub 2022 May 18.]
SARS-CoV-2 is not unique in its ability to cause post-acute sequelae; certain acute infections have long been associated with an unexplained chronic disability in a minority of patients.
These post-acute infection syndromes (PAISs) represent a substantial healthcare burden, but there is a lack of understanding of the underlying mechanisms, representing a significant blind spot in the field of medicine.
The relatively similar symptom profiles of individual PAISs, irrespective of the infectious agent, as well as the overlap of clinical features with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), suggest the potential involvement of a common etiopathogenesis.
In this Review, we summarize what is known about unexplained PAISs, provide context for post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), and delineate the need for basic biomedical research into the underlying mechanisms behind this group of enigmatic chronic illnesses.
Brain Nerve. 2022 May;74(5):660-667. [Article in Japanese.]
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a syndrome primarily presenting fatigue-based symptoms; however, the challenge is this syndrome has no diagnostic biomarkers.
The diagnosis and treatment of ME/CFS require highly specialized knowledge and skills. There is no definitive therapy for ME/CFS, including Chinese herbal medicine, vitamins, and/or L-carnitine.
We recognised ME/CFS-like symptom in some patients infected COVID-19 . This directed our attention towards the research progress on the new research on the mechanisms and treatment of ME/CFS.
Brain Nerve. 2022 May;74(5):652-659. [Article in Japanese.]
Myalgic encephalitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is an acquired intractable disease characterized by profound fatigue, post-exertional malaise, sleep disturbance, cognitive impairment, and orthostatic intolerance, among other features. The onset often follows an infectious episode.
Importantly, the various types of autonomic dysfunctions, pain, and intolerance to various stimuli in ME/CFS patients are intrinsically different from the “fatigue” of healthy individuals.
In this short essay, I summarize the current diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for ME/CFS, as well as the progress in the immunological and imaging research on this intractable disease.
Long-COVID Research References
- Prevalence of post-COVID-19 in patients with fibromyalgia: a comparative study with other inflammatory and autoimmune rheumatic diseases
- Fostering Fatigue-Management in People with Post-Acute COVID-19 Syndrome – Experiences with the “Untire” App
- An Unexpected Journey: The Lived Experiences of Patients with Long-Term Cognitive Sequelae After Recovering from COVID-19
- Differences in clinical presentation with long covid following community and hospital infection, and associations with all-cause mortality: English sentinel network database study
- The modified COVID-19 Yorkshire Rehabilitation Scale (C19-YRSm) patient-reported outcome measure for Long Covid or Post-COVID-19 syndrome
- Association of Congenital and Acquired Cardiovascular Conditions With COVID-19 Severity Among Pediatric Patients in the US
Dr Katrina Pears,
The ME Association.