The findings of a breakthrough study that are shedding some light on the mysterious chronic fatigue syndrome have been published on Wednesday in the journal Radiology. It appears that chronic fatigue syndrome may cause brain abnormalities.
There is no known cause for chronic fatigue syndrome and no known treatment. But researchers from Stanford have found that chronic fatigue syndrome may cause brain abnormalities, which could open the door for ways of studying and treating the debilitating disease.
Dr. Jose Montoya was one of the people who established a chronic fatigue team 10 years ago at Stanford School of Medicine. He was also the senior author of the study which revealed that chronic fatigue syndrome may cause brain abnormalities.
If this finding holds, it will be exciting because yes, we’ve found something that has never been found before. But there’s this additional layer of looking at a disease that was completely ostracized. So there’s also this component of validation.
The study which gave these results is quite small and limited; the scientists examined 15 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and had 14 control subjects who were in perfect health.
The researchers found three types of brain abnormalities in the people who were diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome. Firstly, the white matter areas were significantly smaller in those with the syndrome than in the healthy subjects. White matter helps carry nerve impulses between neurons.
Secondly, the arcuate fasciculus, a tract of the brain that connects the temporal and frontal lobes, had abnormalities. Normally, the arcuate fasciculus is in charge of language and comprehension in the left hemisphere of the brain, but after scanning, the scientists found that the people with chronic fatigue syndrome had the abnormalities of the arcuate fasciculus in the right hemisphere. Doctors don’t know yet what the fasciculus does on the right side of the brain and are hoping that some more studies of chronic fatigue patients will reveal more about that.
Thridly, they found that the grey matter around the abnormal arcuate fasciculus is thicker in the patients with the syndrome than in the healthy ones.
Chronic fatigue syndrome may cause brain abnormalities and these findings may point in the direction that the arcuate fasciculus tract is hyperactive in people with chronic fatigue syndrome. These results are opening sparking new interest in the investigation of this area of the brain.
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects up to a million people in the U.S. Patients experience a large range of symptoms, such as: overall weakness, insomnia, muscle and joint pain, cognitive impairments and crippling fatigue which can last up to years.