Differences in the gut microbiomes of people with ME/CFS revealed

Discrepancies in the gut microbiomes of people having myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) than those of healthy controls have been disclosed by newly performed research.

Gut Health

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ME or CFS has been defined by undiscovered debilitating fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances, and cognitive dysfunction, among other symptoms.

The study was headed by researchers at the Center for Infection and Immunity (CII) at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, as part of the Center for Solutions for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It is an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional research team committed to comprehending the biology of the disease to come up with an efficient way to diagnose, treat, and avoid it. The study outcomes are reported in the journal Cell Host & Microbe.

The scientists performed metabolomic and metagenomic analyses of fecal samples gathered from a geographically varied cohort of 91 healthy controls and 106 cases.

The outcomes disclosed variations in abundance, gut microbiome diversity, functional biological pathways, and interactions happening between bacteria. Cases and controls were paired for sex, age, geography, and socioeconomic status.

Gut bacteria named Eubacterium rectale and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, which are both generally ample and health-promoting, were decreased in ME/CFS participants.

For both bacteria, scientists also discovered a deficient microbial capacity for synthesizing butyrate, the primary fuel for the colon cell of the body, along with ME/CFS. The abundance of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii was inversely linked to fatigue severity.

The only other species determined with decreased relative abundance in ME/CFS was C. secundus, an acetate-producer, that could add up to the net acetate deficiency found by the scientists in ME/CFS subjects. Acetate has been utilized by butyrate-producing bacteria to produce butyrate.

An extra nine species had increased comparative abundance in ME/CFS than healthy controls, including C. bolteae—which in other research has been associated with fatigue in multiple sclerosis. Another, R. gnavus, has been linked with inflammatory bowel disease.

The gut microbiome is a complex ecological community teeming with diverse inter-species interactions that can be beneficial or harmful. Our research finds that in people with ME/CFS, there can be extensive rewiring of the networks of bacteria in this system.”

Brent Williams, PhD, Study Senior Author and Assistant Professor, Epidemiology in CII, Columbia Mailman School of Public Health

Understanding the connection between ME/CFS and disturbances in the gut microbiome may lead to ways to classify the disease and targets for therapeutic trials,” added co-author W. Ian Lipkin, MD, CII director and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School.

Journal reference:

Guo, C., et al. (2023) Deficient butyrate-producing capacity in the gut microbiome is associated with bacterial network disturbances and fatigue symptoms in ME/CFS. Cell Host & Microbe. doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2023.01.004


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