Multi-omics examination of Q fever fatigue syndrome identifies similarities with chronic fatigue syndrome, by Ruud PH Raijmakers, Megan E Roerink, Anne FM Jansen, Stephan P Keijmel, Ranko Gacesa, Yang Li, Leo AB Joosten, Jos WM van der Meer, Mihai G Netea, Chantal P Bleeker-Rovers & Cheng-Jian Xu in Journal of Translational Medicine vol 18, Article: 448 (2020)


Research abstract: 

Q fever fatigue syndrome (QFS) is characterised by a state of prolonged fatigue that is seen in 20% of acute Q fever infections and has major health-related consequences. The molecular mechanisms underlying QFS are largely unclear. In order to better understand its pathogenesis, we applied a multi-omics approach to study the patterns of the gut microbiome, blood metabolome, and inflammatory proteome of QFS patients, and compared these with those of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and healthy controls (HC).

The study population consisted of 31 QFS patients, 50 CFS patients, and 72 HC. All subjects were matched for age, gender, and general geographical region (South-East part of the Netherlands). The gut microbiome composition was assessed by Metagenomic sequencing using the Illumina HiSeq platform. A total of 92 circulating inflammatory markers were measured using Proximity Extension Essay and 1607 metabolic features were assessed with a high-throughput non-targeted metabolomics approach.

Protein MMP-1

Inflammatory markers, including 4E-BP1 (P = 9.60–16 and 1.41–7) and MMP-1 (P = 7.09–9 and 3.51–9), are significantly more expressed in both QFS and CFS patients compared to HC. Blood metabolite profiles show significant differences when comparing QFS (319 metabolites) and CFS (441 metabolites) patients to HC, and are significantly enriched in pathways like sphingolipid (P = 0.0256 and 0.0033) metabolism.

When comparing QFS to CFS patients, almost no significant differences in metabolome were found. Comparison of microbiome taxonomy of QFS and CFS patients with that of HC, shows both in- and decreases in abundancies in Bacteroidetes (with emphasis on Bacteroides and Alistiples spp.), and Firmicutes and Actinobacteria (with emphasis n Ruminococcus and Bifidobacterium spp.). When we compare QFS patients to CFS patients, there is a striking resemblance and hardly any significant differences in microbiome taxonomy are found.

We show that QFS and CFS patients are similar across three different omics layers and 4E-BP1 and MMP-1 have the potential to distinguish QFS and CFS patients from HC.

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