MRI Shows Brain Changes in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Magnetic resonance images showed changes in the brain, including bilateral white matter atrophy, among patients with CFS.

Magnetic resonance imaging shows bilateral white matter atrophy in people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Researchers from Stanford University in California undertook a retrospective review of 15 patients with CFS to determine if they could identify if there were differences in gross brain structure, microscopic structure, or brain perfusion among people with CFS. Fourteen age- and sex-matched control subjects also participated.

All subjects underwent 3.0-T volumetric T1-weighted MR imaging with two diffusion-tensor imaging (DTI) acquisitions and arterial spin labeling (ASL).

The results showed that the subjects with CFS had increased fractional anisotropy (FA) in the right arcuate fasciculus and among those who were right-handed, FA was also increased in the right inferior longitudinal fasciculus. Those with CFS also showed that the right anterior arcuate FA increased with disease severity. Bilateral white matter volumes were reduced in those with CFS compared with the control subjects.

“This is the first study to look at white matter tracts in CFS and correlate them with cortical findings,” study lead author Michael M. Zeineh, MD, PhD, assistant professor of radiology, Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a release. “It’s not something you could see with conventional imaging.”[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"28878","attributes":{"alt":"Michael M. Zeineh, MD, PhD","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_1780176933657","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"2960","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 132px; width: 100px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Michael M. Zeineh, MD, PhD, lead author","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The researchers concluded that bilateral white matter atrophy is present among patients with CFS, and that right anterior arcuate FA may serve as a biomarker for the syndrome.

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