Health rising blog post, by Cort Johnson, 3 Feb 2017: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Studies Link Autonomic Nervous System Problems to Brain

Dr. Barnden of the National Centre for NeuroImmnology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED) in Griffith University, Australia has been doing some fascinating brain imaging work in chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Over the past six years Barnden has been publishing results from a multifaceted brain imaging study, which analyzed magnetic resonance imaging results in two ways.

ME/CFS produces a plethora of possible central nervous system (fatigue, pain, movement, gait, stimulus problems, etc. ) and autonomic nervous system symptoms (fatigue, pain, sleep, gut issues, cognition. Barnden’s unique contribution has been to tie both together by identifying parts of the brain that may be causing the autonomic nervous system problems.

The Gist

  • Increased gray matter loss associated with fatigue duration suggested that gray matter loss may be proceeding more rapidly in ME/CFS over time. (As we age we all lose gray matter.)
  • Reduced white matter levels in the midbrain suggested it may be involved in the    autonomic nervous system problems found in ME/CFS
  • Other clusters in the hypothalamus and brainstem suggested that the central autonomic network has been damaged in ME/CFS
  • The damage appears to occur in the signaling pathways that connect the network
  • The low stressors employed in the study (sitting up) suggest Barnden has identified core issues in ME/CFS.

The NIH Intramural study should be able to greatly expand on Barnden’s findings

Read the full article

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