Patients with a recent Chronic Fatigue Syndrome diagnosis have been found to have reduced levels of particular gut bacteria that aid in digestive health, a new study has found.

Rsearchers from Jackson Laboratory in the United States found that patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (also referred to as CFS, or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) for over a decade were found to have distinct differences in blood metabolites in comparison to healthy individuals

Blood metabolites are compounds that the body produces or uses as it digests food. They are the consequence of metabolic activities in the body and can give valuable information about a person’s health.

The study only indicates a correlation between gut microbiome changes and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome rather than a cause.

The researchers used shotgun metagenomics sequencing to examine the genes of all organisms in the gut microbiome of 74 patients recently diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and 75 patients with long-term symptoms.

Stool and blood samples were compared to those from 79 healthy participants.

Reduced levels of butyrate-producing bacteria were found in the gut of recently diagnosed patients, while long-term patients had re-established gut bacteria more similar to the healthy controls.

However, these patients had numerous changes in their blood plasma metabolites, including those related to the immune system, and differences in immune cell levels compared to healthy individuals.

Further research is required to determine the direct connection between gut bacteria and ME/CFS symptoms.

Professor Chris Ponting, principal investigator at the MRC Human Genetics Unit commented: “As the authors themselves note, they’re unable to tell whether any bacterial changes cause, or else are downstream consequences of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”

“This crucial question deserves future experiments.”

The study is published in two papers in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

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