Autonomic phenotypes in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are associated with illness severity: a cluster analysis, by Joanna Słomko, Fernando Estevez-Lopez, Sławomir Kujawski, Monika Zawadka-Kunikowska, Małgorzata Tafil-Klawa, Modra Murovska, Julia L Newton, Paweł Zalewski on behalf of the European Network on ME/CFS (EUROMENE) in J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(8), 2531; [doi.org/10.3390/jcm9082531]
In this study we set out to define the characteristics of autonomic subgroups of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). The study included 131 patients with CFS (Fukuda criteria).
Participants completed the following screening symptom assessment tools: Chalder Fatigue Scale, Fatigue Impact Scale, Fatigue Severity Scale, Epworth Sleepiness Scales,
the self-reported Composite Autonomic Symptom Scale.
Principal axis factor analysis yielded four factors: fatigue, subjective and objective autonomic dysfunction and arterial stiffness. Using cluster analyses, these factors were grouped in four autonomic profiles: 34% of patients had sympathetic symptoms with dysautonomia, 5% sympathetic alone, 21% parasympathetic and 40% had issues with sympathovagal balance.
Those with a sympathetic-dysautonomia phenotype were associated with more severe disease, reported greater subjective autonomic symptoms with sympathetic over-modulation and had the lowest quality of life. The highest quality of life was observed in the balance subtype where subjects were the youngest, had lower levels of fatigue and the lowest values for arterial stiffness. Future studies will aim to design autonomic profile-specific treatment interventions to determine links between autonomic phenotypes CFS and a specific treatment.