2001 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

Behan WMH

Department of Pathology,
Glasgow University,
Scotland, U.K.

Correspondence to:
Professor WMH Behan,
Department of Pathology,
Western Infirmary,
Glasgow G11 6NT.

Research Update in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterised by myalgia and exercise intolerance but the pathogenetic mechanisms are unknown. Major controversy has been caused by the fact that the fatigue has both central and peripheral components. Fatigue mechanisms are also complex, however, in other disorders e.g. in multiple sclerosis (MS) there is a significant decrease in muscle phosphocreatine resynthesis after exercise while in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) reductions in muscle aerobic capacity appear to play almost as important a role as defects in the lung ventilation. We have used detailed exercise studies to compare and contrast the response in well-characterised groups of patients with CFS, MS & COPD, in a search for common pathogenetic pathways. One new finding in CFS is that, although there is some heterogeneity, convincing evidence of cardiovascular impairment can be demonstrated.

Muscle biopsies have also been taken from all these cases, in order to establish the molecular mechanisms contributing to exercise intolerance. These are being probed by measuring mRNA expression, using customised gene expression microassays. Computer analysis of these results is now underway.

Although the aetiology of CFS remains elusive, it is hoped that these studies will lead to a better understanding of the interference in normal exercise capacity.

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by the Barclay Trust and the Myalgic Encephalomyelitis Association.


Alison Hunter Memorial Foundation
PO Box 6132 North Sydney 2059 Australia
Phone/Fax +61 2 9958 6285