Researchers Were Able to Predict ME/CFS With 84 Percent Accuracy

One of the biggest challenges of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is no definitive test exists yet to prove you have the condition, making it difficult for patients to get diagnosed — and, in many cases, to prove there is even anything “wrong” with you at all — or find the right treatment. But a new study was able to predict ME/CFS with a high degree of accuracy, adding to the growing body of research that supports the possibility of a blood test for ME/CFS.

What the Research Says

The study, published in the journal “Scientific Reports” earlier this month, looked at data from 50 patients with ME/CFS and 50 healthy controls. Researchers analyzed 562 metabolites, or substances made or used when the body breaks down food, chemicals or its own tissue in blood plasma, and looked at how these metabolites were different in people with and without ME/CFS.

Using a few of the biomarkers that were found to distinguish ME/CFS subjects from the control group most strongly, researchers were able to predict which patients had ME/CFS with an accuracy rate of 84 percent.

The findings were consistent with previous studies that found dysfunction in metabolites associated with mitochondria, the part of the cell involved in producing energy. The study also built on previous research that found a unique metabolic pattern in patients with ME/CFS and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS is a common comorbidity of ME/CFS).

Last year, researchers at Stanford University found a link between ME/CFS and 17 markers of inflammation found in the blood, suggesting a possible reason for the “flu-like” symptoms people with ME/CFS experience and also supporting the idea that the condition may one day be diagnosable with a blood test.

What It Means for You

The study’s small sample size means more research will have to be done to replicate the findings, but researchers are hopeful it will help bring scientists one step closer to understanding how ME/CFS works.

“This is a strong predictive model that suggests we’re getting close to the point where we’ll have lab tests that will allow us to say with a high level of certainty who has this disorder,” first author Dorottya Nagy-Szakal said in a statement.

“We’re getting close to the point where we can develop animal models that will allow us to test various hypotheses, as well as potential therapies,” W. Ian Lipkin, another of the study’s authors, added. “For instance, some patients might benefit from probiotics to retune their gastrointestinal microflora or drugs that activate certain neurotransmitter systems.”

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

A picture of a man with his hands to his head, looking tired.

20 Things ME/CFS Post-Exertional Malaise Feels Like

A significant factor of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is something called “post-exertional malaise,” or PEM. It sounds like how a healthy person might feel after a short jog on a warm day, but I think it should be called something more dramatic, like “THE AFTERSHOCK,” and always written in capitals in medical notes. It’s [...]
Two friends sitting on a couch talking, one looking upset.

4 Ways You Can Handle Unsolicited Health Advice

Here’s the most distressing piece of unsolicited advice I’ve received to date. It showed up in my Inbox two days after I’d completed a course of radiation for breast cancer. The email was in response to an article I’d written about this new, unexpected turn my life had taken – the article included the fact [...]
A picture of a person's bright rain boots and umbrella, as she stands on brightly colored steps.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Isn't All Doom and Gloom

Having a long-term illness robs a person of many things. Personally, I miss being sure of my movements. I used to bake often but now I have to put so much concentration into each action that the whole process is too exhausting to be rewarding. I’m worried I’ll knock something off the work surface, drop [...]
A pictureo f a woman tired while exercising.

Finding That Sweet Spot Between Exercise and CFS

I used to exercise regularly by walking and doing a routine of strength-building exercises I put together myself. I did this before either were all the rage for staying fit. Before videos, classes, walking shoes. I didn’t have a car in college or graduate school, so I walked everywhere. And I loved walking no matter [...]