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Pharmacogenomics. 2006 Apr;7(3):485-94.

Allostatic load is associated with symptoms in chronic fatigue syndrome patients.

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Virginia Tech, National Capital Region, Arlington, Virginia, USA.



To further explore the relationship between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and allostatic load (AL), we conducted a computational analysis involving 43 patients with CFS and 60 nonfatigued, healthy controls (NF) enrolled in a population-based case-control study in Wichita (KS, USA). We used traditional biostatistical methods to measure the association of high AL to standardized measures of physical and mental functioning, disability, fatigue and general symptom severity. We also used nonlinear regression technology embedded in machine learning algorithms to learn equations predicting various CFS symptoms based on the individual components of the allostatic load index (ALI).


An ALI was computed for all study participants using available laboratory and clinical data on metabolic, cardiovascular and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis factors. Physical and mental functioning/impairment was measured using the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short Form Health Survey (SF-36); current fatigue was measured using the 20-item multidimensional fatigue inventory (MFI); frequency and intensity of symptoms was measured using the 19-item symptom inventory (SI). Genetic programming, a nonlinear regression technique, was used to learn an ensemble of different predictive equations rather just than a single one. Statistical analysis was based on the calculation of the percentage of equations in the ensemble that utilized each input variable, producing a measure of the 'utility' of the variable for the predictive problem at hand. Traditional biostatistics methods include the median and Wilcoxon tests for comparing the median levels of subscale scores obtained on the SF-36, the MFI and the SI summary score.


Among CFS patients, but not controls, a high level of AL was significantly associated with lower median values (indicating worse health) of bodily pain, physical functioning and general symptom frequency/intensity. Using genetic programming, the ALI was determined to be a better predictor of these three health measures than any subcombination of ALI components among cases, but not controls.

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