Research abstract:

Intracranial compliance is associated with symptoms of orthostatic intolerance in chronic fatigue syndrome, by Andreas Finkelmeyer, Jiabao He, Laura Maclachlan, Andrew M Blamire, Julia L Newton in PLoS One. 2018 Jul 3;13(7):e0200068

Symptoms of orthostatic intolerance (OI) are common in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and similar disorders. These symptoms may relate to individual differences in intracranial compliance and cerebral blood perfusion. The present study used phase-contrast, quantitative flow magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine intracranial compliance based on arterial inflow, venous outflow and cerebrospinal fluid flow along the spinal canal into and out of the cranial cavity.

Flow-sensitive Alternating Inversion Recovery (FAIR) Arterial Spin Labelling was used to measure cerebral blood perfusion at rest. Forty patients with CFS and 10 age and gender matched controls were scanned.

Severity of symptoms of OI was determined from self-report using the Autonomic Symptom Profile. CFS patients reported significantly higher levels of OI (p < .001). Within the patient group, higher severity of OI symptoms were associated with lower intracranial compliance (r = -.346, p = .033) and higher resting perfusion (r = .337, p = .038). In both groups intracranial compliance was negatively correlated with cerebral perfusion.

There were no significant differences between the groups in intracranial compliance or perfusion. In patients with CFS, low intracranial compliance and high resting cerebral perfusion appear to be associated with an increased severity of symptoms of OI. This may signify alterations in the ability of the cerebral vasculature to cope with changes to systemic blood pressure due to orthostatic stress, but this may not be specific to CFS.

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