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F1000Res. 2019 Nov 28;8. pii: F1000 Faculty Rev-2020. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.18660.1. eCollection 2019.

Understanding neuromuscular disorders in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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C2VN Inserm Inra, Faculty of Medicine, Aix Marseille University, Marseille, France, France.
Department of Internal Medicine, European Hospital, Marseille, France, France.


Muscle failure has been demonstrated in patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Neurophysiological tools demonstrate the existence of both central and peripheral fatigue in these patients. Central fatigue is deduced from the reduced amplitude of myopotentials evoked by transcranial magnetic stimulation of the motor cortex as well as by the muscle response to interpolated twitches during sustained fatiguing efforts. An impaired muscle membrane conduction velocity assessed by the reduced amplitude and lengthened duration of myopotentials evoked by direct muscle stimulation is the defining feature of peripheral fatigue. Some patients with ME/CFS show an increased oxidative stress response to exercise. The formation of lipid hydroperoxides in the sarcolemma, which alters ionic fluxes, could explain the reduction of muscle membrane excitability and potassium outflow often measured in these patients. In patients with ME/CFS, the formation of heat shock proteins (HSPs) is also reduced. Because HSPs protect muscle cells against the deleterious effects of reactive oxygen species, the lack of their production could explain the augmented oxidative stress and the consecutive alterations of myopotentials which could open a way for future treatment of ME/CFS.


central fatigue; chronic fatigue syndrome; heat shock proteins; myalgic encephalomyelitis; neuromuscular disorders; neurophysiology; oxidative stress; peripheral fatigue; physiology

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No competing interests were disclosed.No competing interests were disclosed.No competing interests were disclosed.

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