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Bioenergetic and Proteomic Profiling of Immune Cells in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients: An Exploratory Study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a heterogeneous, debilitating, and complex disease. Along with disabling fatigue, ME/CFS presents an array of other core symptoms, including autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction, sustained inflammation, altered energy metabolism, and mitochondrial dysfunction. Here, we evaluated patients' symptomatology and the mitochondrial metabolic parameters in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and plasma from a clinically well-characterised cohort of six ME/CFS patients compared to age- and gender-matched controls. We performed a comprehensive cellular assessment using bioenergetics (extracellular flux analysis) and protein profiles (quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics) together with self-reported symptom measures of fatigue, ANS dysfunction, and overall physical and mental well-being. This ME/CFS cohort presented with severe fatigue, which correlated with the severity of ANS dysfunction and overall physical well-being. PBMCs from ME/CFS patients showed significantly lower mitochondrial coupling efficiency. They exhibited proteome alterations, including altered mitochondrial metabolism, centred on pyruvate dehydrogenase and coenzyme A metabolism, leading to a decreased capacity to provide adequate intracellular ATP levels. Overall, these results indicate that PBMCs from ME/CFS patients have a decreased ability to fulfill their cellular energy demands.

Original languageEnglish
Article number961
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)961
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

    Research areas

  • Bioenergetics, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Coupling efficiency, Large-scale discovery proteomics, Mitochondria, Mitochondrial respiration, Myalgic encephalomyelitis, Pyruvate dehydrogenase, Spare respiratory capacity, Targeted metabolomics

ID: 66565196