The researchers have detected distinct biomarkers in the people with chronic fatigue that could reveal more about the immune systems of the affected patients and help in the proper diagnosis and treatment of the health condition.
The study, conducted by the researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health of the Columbia University, offers the first-ever strong physical evidence to the fact that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological illness or disorder and not a psychological condition. Moreover, this is the first time when the disease has been characterized of having distinct stages.
The researchers explain chronic fatigue syndrome is a health condition having many distinct stages that can be labeled with the help of biomarkers present in the blood.
“We now have evidence confirming what millions of people with this disease already know, that ME/CFS isn’t psychological. The study results should contribute in accelerating the process of establishing the diagnosis after individuals first fall ill as well as discovery of new treatment strategies focusing on these early blood markers,” said Mady Hornig, lead author and an associate professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School.
The chronic fatigue syndrome, previously known as encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS), has long puzzled the medical world due to its no known cause or cure and dearth of research works.
For the study, several levels of 51 immune biomarkers present in the blood plasma were examined. The researchers collected these blood samples from 298 patients and 348 healthy controls.
The study group spotted certain patterns in patients with chronic fatigue condition for three years or less. But, these distinct patterns were missing among those people in the healthy controls or those patients who suffered the health condition for over three years. However, those suffering from the disease for less than three years showed higher levels of immune molecules, called cytokines.
“The association was unusually healthy with a cytokine called interferon gamma that has been linked to the fatigue that follows many viral infections, such as Epstein-Barr virus,” according to the researchers.
“The study showed the patients with the health condition are flushed with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system start showing the evidence of exhaustion and decline in cytokine levels,” Hornig said.
Headaches, muscle pain, difficult concentration and extreme tiredness are some of the common symptoms of ME/CFS.
The findings of the study were detailed in the journal Science Advances.