Norwegian researchers (Fluge, Tronstad & Mella) have released the results of a new study, mapping the metabolism of 200 ME patients and 100 healthy controls and detected specific biochemical changes in the blood of ME/CFS patients. These findings have now been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight.
The analyses of blood samples from the ME/CFS patients showed that the levels of certain amino acids were reduced compared to healthy control subjects, giving important information about the symptom mechanisms, and in particular about the patients’ energy metabolism. The study suggests that the pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) enzyme is inhibited in ME/CFS patients, which may explain both energy shortage and increased lactate production in these patients.
The authors conclude that:
In all likelihood, ME also encompasses regulatory problems in other parts of the metabolism, e.g. in the processing of lipids (fats). This is now the subject of further studies. Based on the results from the metabolism study, we hypothesize that ME patients suffer from a PDH enzyme inhibition which involves both a reduced ability to produce energy from carbohydrates and an abnormal production of lactate in the muscle even after minimal strain. An important focus for the current research work is to gain understanding of how a presumably faulty immune response after an infection could warrant such an inhibition of the cellular metabolism…. We believe that the findings in the study are important for the understanding of ME/CFS as a disease, and consistent with two recently published reports on metabolic changes in ME/CFS. The anticipated consequences of the observed metabolic changes are compatible with the clinical picture demonstrated by ME patients.