By Miriam E. Tucker in Medscape.
Blockage of a key metabolic enzyme could explain the profound lack of energy and other symptoms experienced by patients with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), new research suggests.
The findings were published December 22, 2016, in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight by Øystein Fluge, MD, from the Department of Oncology and Medical Physics at Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway, and colleagues.
The study included 200 patients with ME/CFS, as defined by the 2003 Canadian Consensus Criteria, which requires the hallmark symptom of postexertional malaise, among others, to make the diagnosis of ME/CFS. The authors compared serum concentrations of 20 standard amino acids from the 200 patients with ME/CFS and 102 healthy control patients.
In the patients with ME/CFS, there was a specific reduction of amino acids that fuel oxidative metabolism, pointing to functional impairment of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH), a key enzyme for the conversion of carbohydrates to energy. Impairment of PDH could result in the cells switching to consumption of alternative fuels, causing a sudden shortage of energy in the muscles and a buildup of lactate, experienced by patients as a burning sensation in their muscles after even minor exertion.
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