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J Extracell Vesicles. 2018 Mar 22;7(1):1453730. doi: 10.1080/20013078.2018.1453730. eCollection 2018.

Circulating extracellular vesicles as potential biomarkers in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: an exploratory pilot study.

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CFS/ME Unit, Internal Medicine Service, Vall d'Hebron University Hospital Research Institute, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Department of Physical and Analytical Chemistry, Faculty of Chemistry, University of Oviedo, Oviedo, Spain.
Clinical Research Department, Laboratorios Viñas, Barcelona, Spain.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) is an acquired, complex and multisystem condition of unknown etiology, no established diagnostic lab tests and no universally FDA-approved drugs for treatment. CFS/ME is characterised by unexplicable disabling fatigue and is often also associated with numerous core symptoms. A growing body of evidence suggests that extracellular vesicles (EVs) play a role in cell-to-cell communication, and are involved in both physiological and pathological processes. To date, no data on EV biology in CFS/ME are as yet available. The aim of this study was to isolate and characterise blood-derived EVs in CFS/ME. Blood samples were collected from 10 Spanish CFS/ME patients and 5 matched healthy controls (HCs), and EVs were isolated from the serum using a polymer-based method. Their protein cargo, size distribution and concentration were measured by Western blot and nanoparticle tracking analysis. Furthermore, EVs were detected using a lateral flow immunoassay based on biomarkers CD9 and CD63. We found that the amount of EV-enriched fraction was significantly higher in CFS/ME subjects than in HCs (p = 0.007) and that EVs were significantly smaller in CFS/ME patients (= 0.014). Circulating EVs could be an emerging tool for biomedical research in CFS/ME. These findings provide preliminary evidence that blood-derived EVs may distinguish CFS/ME patients from HCs. This will allow offer new opportunities and also may open a new door to identifying novel potential biomarkers and therapeutic approaches for the condition.


Chronic fatigue syndrome; extracellular vesicles; lateral flow immunoassay system; myalgic encephalomyelitis; tetraspanins

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