Chronic fatigue syndrome and the brain

Chronic fatigue syndrome gets short shrift from neurologists. Admit it, we dismiss it with a wink and a nod. We put our noses up at its diagnostic criteria, call it ‘low moral fiber’, and move on to ‘proper’ neurological stuff.

But what if there really is something going on in the brains of patients with this label.

Well this paper in Radiology suggests there is. It reports white matter atrophy and increased functional anisotropy (whatever that means) in the right arcuate and right longitudinal fasciculus. The authors go as far as to suggest this may be a biomarker for the disease. OK, but you need more than 15 patients to go that far!

While still on chronic fatigue syndrome, some researchers have found cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) abnormalities in the disorder. The report from Molecular Psychiatry (no, not the JNNP) shows an increase in the cytokine CCL11, amongst other things, suggesting immune activation of the central nervous system-their words. And this presumably underlies the cognitive dysfunction in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS, not CSF mind you).

Now all this must be getting too close for comfort for some!

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