TGI Friday! Our weekly round-up of recently published research abstracts | 6 January 2017

From Molecular Biosystems, 23 December 2016

Metabolic profiling of a myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome discovery cohort reveals disturbances in fatty acid and lipid metabolism

Arnaud Germain(a), David Ruppert(b), Susan M Levine(a) and Maureen R Hanson(a)
a) Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA
b) Department of Statistical Science and School of Operations Research and Information Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, USA


Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) remains a continuum spectrum disease without biomarkers or simple objective tests, and therefore relies on a diagnosis from a set of symptoms to link the assortment of brain and body disorders to ME/CFS.

Although recent studies show various affected pathways, the underlying basis of ME/CFS has yet to be established.

In this pilot study, we compare plasma metabolic signatures in a discovery cohort, 17 patients and 15 matched controls, and explore potential metabolic perturbations as the aftermath of the complex interactions between genes, transcripts and proteins.

This approach to examine the complex array of symptoms and underlying foundation of ME/CFS revealed 74 differentially accumulating metabolites, out of 361 (P<0.05), and 35 significantly altered after statistical correction (Q<0.15). The latter list includes several essential energy-related compounds which could theoretically be linked to the general lack of energy observed in ME/CFS patients. Pathway analysis points to a few pathways with high impact and therefore potential disturbances in patients, mainly taurine metabolism and glycerophospholipid metabolism, combined with primary bile acid metabolism, as well as glyoxylate and dicarboxylate metabolism and a few other pathways, all involved broadly in fatty acid metabolism. Purines, including ADP and ATP, pyrimidines and several amino acid metabolic pathways were found to be significantly disturbed. Finally, glucose and oxaloacetate were two main metabolites affected that have a major effect on sugar and energy levels. Our work provides a prospective path for diagnosis and understanding of underlying mechanisms of ME/CFS.

From the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 26 December 2016

Efficacy of a randomized controlled brief physical activity self-regulation intervention for c hronic f atigue: Mediation effects of physical activity progress and self-regulation skills

M.M. Marques(1), V De Gucht(2), I. Leal(1), S. Maes (2)
1) ISPA- University Institute, Rua Jardim do Tabaco, 34, 1149-041 Lisboa, Portugal
2) Leiden University, Department of Health, Medical and Neuropsychology, PO Box 9555, 2300 RB Leiden, The Netherlands


• 4-STEPS yielded sustained small to moderate sustained effects on self-reported fatigue severity, impact, and health-related quality of life.

• There were modest effects on physical activity. There were no significant effects on psychological and somatic distress.

• Benefits on fatigue severity at 12 months were partially explained by physical activity goal progress.



Examine the medium-term effects of a brief physical activity (PA) self-regulation (SR) based intervention (4-STEPS program) for chronic fatigue, and explore the mediating effects of PA related variables and SR skills.


A two-arm randomized controlled trial (Usual Care vs 4-STEPS) was carried out. The 4-STEPS program consisted of Motivational Interviewing and SR-skills training. Fatigue severity (primary outcome) and impact, PA, health-related quality of life (HrQoL), and somatic and psychological distress were assessed at baseline, post-treatment (12 weeks) and 12 months follow-up.


Ninety-one patients (45 intervention and 46 controls) were included. At follow-up, there were significant treatment effects on fatigue severity (g = 0.72) and fatigue impact, leisure-time PA, and physical and psychological HrQoL. No significant effects were found for number of daily steps and somatic and psychological distress. Fatigue severity at follow-up was partially mediated by post-treatment progress on a personal PA goal (effect ratio = 18%).


Results suggest that a brief intervention, focusing on the formulation and pursuit of personal PA goals and the use of SR skills, produces sustained benefits for fatigue severity. Despite these promising results, dropout was high and the intervention was not beneficial for all secondary outcomes.