A possible role for mitochondrial-derived peptides humanin and MOTS-c in patients with Q fever fatigue syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome, by Ruud PH Raijmakers, Anne F M Jansen, Stephan P Keijmel, Rob ter Horst, Megan E Roerink, Boris Novakovic, Leo AB Joosten, Jos W M van der Meer, Mihai G Netea and Chantal P Bleeker-Roversen, in Journal of Translational Medicine 2019 17:157 [https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-019-1906-3]


Research abstract:


Q fever fatigue syndrome (QFS) is a well-documented state of prolonged fatigue following around 20% of acute Q fever infections.

General schema showing the relationships of the genome, transcriptome, proteome, and metabolome (lipidome).

It has been hypothesized that low grade inflammation plays a role in its aetiology. In this study, we aimed to identify transcriptome profiles that could aid to better understand the pathophysiology of QFS.


RNA of monocytes was collected from QFS patients (n = 10), chronic fatigue syndrome patients (CFS, n = 10), Q fever seropositive controls (n = 10), and healthy controls (n = 10) who were age- (± 5 years) and sex-matched. Transcriptome analysis was performed using RNA sequencing.


Mitochondrial-derived peptide (MDP)-coding genes MT-RNR2 (humanin) and MT-RNR1 (MOTS-c) were differentially expressed when comparing QFS (− 4.8 log2-fold-change P = 2.19 × 10−9 and − 4.9 log2-fold-change P = 4.69 × 10−8), CFS (− 5.2 log2-fold-change, P =3.49 × 10−11 − 4.4 log2-fold-change, P = 2.71 × 10−9), and Q fever seropositive control (− 3.7 log2-fold-change P = 1.78 × 10−6 and − 3.2 log2-fold-change P = 1.12 × 10−5) groups with healthy controls, resulting in a decreased median production of humanin in QFS patients (371 pg/mL; Interquartile range, IQR, 325–384), CFS patients (364 pg/mL; IQR 316–387), and asymptomatic Q fever seropositive controls (354 pg/mL; 292–393).


Expression of MDP-coding genes MT-RNR1 (MOTS-c) and MT-RNR2 (humanin) is decreased in CFS, QFS, and, to a lesser extent, in Q fever seropositive controls, resulting in a decreased production of humanin. These novel peptides might indeed be important in the pathophysiology of both QFS and CFS.

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