It’s all in the gut, part 2: ME and chronic fatigue markers found in bacteria



Researchers have located biological markers that demonstrate that ME (myalgic encephalomyelitis) and chronic fatigue syndrome aren’t ‘in the head’ as doctors often tell sufferers: they’re in the gut.

Sufferers have distinctive markers in their gut bacteria and inflammatory agents in their blood, say researchers from Cornell University. The research team successfully diagnosed cases in 83 per cent of patients just by analysing stool and blood samples.

Suggesting plenty of rest to sufferers isn’t going to make any difference; instead, they need to get their gut sorted with a change of diet or by taking prebiotics or probiotics, says lead researcher Ludovic Giloteaux.

His fellow researcher, Maureen Hanson, added: “Our work demonstrates that the gut bacterial microbiome (the gut ‘universe’) in chronic fatigue syndrome patients isn’t

normal, perhaps leading to gastrointestinal and inflammatory symptoms. Our detection of a biological abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin.”

In their research study, the team analysed stool and blood samples from 48 ME/CFS sufferers and 39 healthy controls. Samples from the patients had fewer types of bacteria, and especially those that are anti-inflammatory, compared to the healthy controls, a profile that has also been seen in samples from people suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Inflammatory markers were also discovered in the blood samples, which may be the result of a leaky gut that allowed the bacteria to enter the blood supply, the researchers say.

Bacteria in the blood could then trigger an immune response, which could make ME/CFS symptoms worse.

But the researchers aren’t sure if the gut bacteria are a cause of ME/CFS or a result of the problem. Either way, it’s a breakthrough, and opens up a new way to treat the problem.


(Source: Microbiome, 2016; 4: doi: 10.1186/s40168-016-0171-4)

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