At the Stanford University School of Medicine “Radiology researchers have discovered that the brains of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have diminished white matter and white matter abnormalities in the right hemisphere.”
“In addition to potentially providing the CFS-specific diagnostic biomarker we’ve been desperately seeking for decades, these findings hold the promise of identifying the area or areas of the brain where the disease has hijacked the central nervous system,” http://med.stanford.edu/news/all-news/2014/10/study-finds-brain-abnormalities-in-chronic-fatigue-patients.html
“Using a trio of sophisticated imaging methodologies, we found that CFS patients’ brains diverge from those of healthy subjects in at least three distinct ways,”
“CFS is one of the greatest scientific and medical challenges of our time,” said the study’s senior author,Jose Montoya, MD, professor of infectious diseases and geographic medicine.
Three key findings
The analysis yielded three noteworthy results, the researchers said. First, an MRI showed that overall white-matter content of CFS patients’ brains, compared with that of healthy subjects’ brains, was reduced. The term “white matter” largely denotes the long, cablelike nerve tracts carrying signals among broadly dispersed concentrations of “gray matter.” The latter areas specialize in processing information, and the former in conveying the information from one part of the brain to another.
That finding wasn’t entirely unexpected, Zeineh said. CFS is thought to involve chronic inflammation, quite possibly as a protracted immunological response to an as-yet unspecified viral infection. Inflammation, meanwhile, is known to take a particular toll on white matter. [see recent study on elevated levels of neuroinflammation in ME/CFS]
But a second finding was entirely unexpected. Using an advanced imaging technique — diffusion-tensor imaging, which is especially suited to assessing the integrity of white matter — Zeineh and his colleagues identified a consistent abnormality in a particular part of a nerve tract in the right hemisphere of CFS patients’ brains. This tract, which connects two parts of the brain called the frontal lobe and temporal lobe, is called the right arcuate fasciculus, and in CFS patients it assumed an abnormal appearance.
Furthermore, there was a fairly strong correlation between the degree of abnormality in a CFS patient’s right arcuate fasciculus and the severity of the patient’s condition, as assessed by performance on a standard psychometric test used to evaluate fatigue.