Imbalance in gut microbiota could explain inflammatory symptoms present in chronic fatigue syndrome, say US researchers.

Their analysis of stool samples taken from 48 patients with CFS and 39 controls without CFS shows CFS patients had decreased bacterial diversity and an increase in pro-inflammatory bacteria such as proteobacteria compared with controls.

They also had significantly lower levels of anti-inflammatory bacteria such as faecalibacterium and bifidobacterium.

Blood samples from CFS patients showed higher levels of inflammatory markers such as c-reactive protein, intestinal fatty acid-binding protein, lipopolysaccharide, LPS-binding protein and soluble CD14.

Based on this data, the researchers were able to correctly diagnose CFS in 83% of patients.

“Our detection of a biologic abnormality provides further evidence against the ridiculous concept that the disease is psychological in origin,” says lead researcher Professor Maureen Hanson.

Co-author Associate Professor Ruth Ley says the combination of blood tests and stool samples could complement other non-invasive diagnostic tools for the disease.

“But if we have a better idea of what is going on with these gut microbes and patients, maybe clinicians could consider changing diets, using prebiotics such as dietary fibres or probiotics to help treat the disease,” she says.

Last Reviewed: 05/07/2016



Reduced diversity and altered composition of the gut microbiome in individuals with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome