The weekly research round-up includes recent publications about ME/CFS and Long Covid. We highlight studies that have particularly caught our attention.
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
It’s been a slightly quieter week with only three new ME/CFS studies and twenty-five new Long Covid studies.
There is not much which caught our eye this week. We have highlighted one of the ME/CFS studies in more detail below:
Paper one (1) looks into whether joint hyperflexibility is a risk factor for developing ME/CFS after infectious mononucleosis (IM).
Infectious mononucleosis (IM) sometimes called mono or kissing disease is commonly caused by the Epstein- Barr virus (EBV) and is spread through saliva. Infection is mostly likely in teens or young adults. It is characterized by swollen lymph glands, fever, sore throat, and extreme fatigue.
This was a follow-on study from this research group (Jason et al., 2021) where college students were studied for the development of ME/CFS 6 months after IM. In this current study 53 students met the criteria for ME/CFS 6 months after IM, and included 66 recovered control subjects who had a modified Beighton score, which is used as a clinical tool for diagnosing joint hyperflexibilbility.
The study found no difference in modified Beighton score between control subjects and patients with ME/CFS, i.e. no relationship was found between joint hyperflexibility and the development of ME/CFS.
There have been mixed findings on the relationship between joint hyperflexibility and ME/CFS. The findings in this research are in line with two of the previous studies (one of which the Beighton scores did not differ but significantly more patients with ME/CFS were hyperflexible). However, findings are not in line with the leading expert in joint hypermobility and ME/CFS (Professor Peter Rowe). The MEA has a Medical Matters section on Hypermobility and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which can be found here.
This research used a well-studied population of students who have developed ME/CFS after IM. Unfortunately, we cannot read the full paper to fully assess this study, but from the snippets we have read, it would seem as with other studies by this group that the classification of severe ME/CFS is not ideal. Severe ME/CFS was classified where patients had not recovered at a 6-month follow-up appointment and had more than one symptom listed in the case definition (as in other studies too: Jason et al., 2022a; Jason et al., 2022b; Jason et al., 2021), which really demeans severe ME/CFS for those who we would typically class as having severe ME/CFS. I do not feel this will be the last of the research which uses this definition, or the last study we see trying to unravel the link between joint hyperflexibility and ME/CFS.
You may also be interested in reading Paper two (2) which is a review article on herpesvirus infection. Specifically, this review looks at linking the evidence of persistent endothelial cell infection and the implications for endothelial dysfunction, encompassing blood flow regulation, coagulation, and cognitive impairment, which are symptoms consistent with both ME/CFS and Long Covid.
The endothelial is a layer of cells lining blood vessels, furthermore, we have previously reviewed the evidence for the role of herpesvirus reactivation in ME/CFS and Long Covid.
In the Long Covid reference section this week you may also be interested in reading: Paper seven (7) which looks into the blood protein signature in Long Covid. There is an easy to understand news article on this study as well as a comment from Dr Charles Shepherd.
ME/CFS Research References
- Herpesvirus Infection as a Systemic Pathological Axis in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Long-COVID Research References
- The demographic, laboratory and genetic factors associated with long Covid-19 syndrome: a case-control study
- Thematic analysis to explore patients' experiences with long COVID-19: a conceptual model of symptoms and impacts on daily lives
- Treatment of long COVID complicated by postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome-Case series research
- Blood transcriptomics reveal persistent SARS-CoV-2 RNA and candidate biomarkers in Long COVID patients
- Long COVID Diagnostic with Differentiation from Chronic Lyme Disease using Machine Learning and Cytokine Hubs
- Fatigue and Mental Illness Symptoms in Long COVID: Protocol for a Prospective Cohort Multicenter Observational Study
- A Review of Post Covid Syndrome Pathophysiology, Clinical Presentation and Management in Children and Young people
- The molecular fingerprint of Neuroinflammation in COVID-19: A comprehensive discussion on molecular mechanisms of Neuroinflammation due to SARS-COV2 antigens
- Characteristics and burden of acute COVID-19 and long-COVID: Demographic, physical, mental health, and economic perspectives
- Long-term symptoms after SARS-CoV-2 infection in a cohort of hospital employees: duration and predictive factors
Dr Katrina Pears,
The ME Association.