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Biochem Mol Med. 1996 Apr;57(2):73-80.

Preliminary determination of a molecular basis of chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Collaborative Pain Research Unit, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME) is a debilitating fatigue illness that has an unknown etiology. We studied 20 chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients, who complied with the Oxford and American CDC definitions, and 45 non-CFS subjects. Participants completed questionnaires, were clinically examined, and had first morning urine specimens collected, which were screened by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry for changes in metabolite excretion. Multivariate analysis of the urinary metabolite profiles differed significantly in the CFS patients compared to the non-CFS patients (P < 0.004). The CFS patients had increases in aminohydroxy-N-methylpyrrolidine (P < 0.00003, referred to as chronic fatigue symptom urinary marker 1, or CFSUM1), tyrosine (P < 0.02), beta-alanine (P < 0.02), aconitic acid (P < 0.05), and succinic acid (P < 0.05) and reductions in an unidentified urinary metabolite, CFSUM2 (P < 0.0007), alanine (P < 0.005), and glutamic acid (P < 0.02). CFSUM1, beta-alanine, and CFSUM2 were found by discriminant function analysis to be the first, second, and third most important metabolites, respectively for discriminating between CFS and non-CFS subjects. The abundances of CFSUM1 and beta-alanine were positively correlated with symptom incidence (P < 0.01 and P < 0.001, respectively), symptom severity, core CFS symptoms, and SCL-90-R somatization (P < 0.00001), suggesting a molecular basis for CFS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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