MRI scans show CFS link to brain changes
By Gemma Collins on 13 May 2011
An MRI study has suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome may be linked
with a dysfunction in the midbrain, challenging claims that it is not
an organic illness.
Using MRI scanning, researchers at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in
Adelaide say they found signs that white matter volume in the midbrain
decreased with increasing fatigue duration in patients with CFS.
This "midbrain dysfunction", they say, could explain many of the
symptoms of CFS which are normally consistent with autonomic nervous
system, immunological and cardiovascular dysfunction.
For the study (see link-
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/nbm.1692/abstract) in NMR
in Biomedicine (online May 11), around 25 patients with CFS and 25
normal controls underwent an MRI scan, and were also scored based on
the 10 most common CFS symptoms.
The MRI scans also revealed disrupted homeostasis in the brain,
suggesting impaired cerebrovascular autoregulation due to astrocyte
"CFS involves an insult to the midbrain, which suppresses levels of
motor and cognitive activity, and affects multiple regulatory feedback
loops to disrupt local CNS homeostasis in parts of the central
autonomic network and elsewhere," the authors conclude.
"The suppressed cerebral activity could contribute to the chronic
fatigue and impaired cognitive function that characterise the
The authors also conclude that further investigation is needed to
determine whether the midbrain volume reduction derives from a one off
brain injury at onset or reflects an ongoing disease.