Kavli Trust blog post on research into ME / CFS at Haukeland University: New study shows reduced ability to regulate the cardiovascular system in patients with ME / CFS, March 26, 2021     [Google translation of a Norwegian article]


The research group for ME / CFS at Haukeland University Hospital has published a new article on possible circulatory disorders in patients with ME/CFS. Examinations of patients’ blood vessels using ultrasound have been an important part of the study, which was carried out with support from the Kavli Foundation.

By the research group for ME / CFS at Haukeland University Hospital:

We performed examinations of the patients’ blood vessels as part of the Cyclophosphamide project on ME / CFS, which was carried out with support from the Kavli Foundation. The group has previously published results showing that 22 of the 40 participants in the study reported improvement in their ME disease after being treated with the cytotoxic drug cyclophosphamide in a controlled clinical trial.

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This study is based on a hypothesis that impaired ability to regulate blood circulation is a possible disease mechanism in ME / CFS. The ability of the blood vessels to fine-tune the blood flow so that the tissue receives enough oxygen and nutrition, especially during exertion, may be affected. This may contribute to the patients’ symptom picture.

A recognized method for studying the regulation of blood circulation is to examine the function of the patients’ endothelium. This cell layer, which covers the inside of the blood vessels, contributes to the expansion and contraction of the veins as needed. During the examination, the patients’ blood circulation in the right arm is limited by means of a blood pressure cuff for five minutes. When this blockage is removed, the blood vessels should normally compensate by dilating and releasing more blood to the arm…

…At re-examination after 12 months, 55% of the patients had experienced a symptom improvement after treatment with cyclophosphamide. Nevertheless, the results for endothelial function at group level were relatively unchanged, and we found no systematic relationship between change in symptoms and change in endothelial function. Nor could we demonstrate a direct relationship between patients’ endothelial function and their level of activity, the severity of the disease, or how long they had been ill.

This study therefore concludes that there is an association between ME / CFS and reduced endothelial function, but that we can not see any direct correlation between endothelial function and the individual patient’s symptom pressure. Regulation of blood circulation is a complex process, and we still have a lot to learn about circulatory disorders in ME / CFS and how they affect patients’ symptoms.

You can read the study in its entirety at Frontiers in Medicine:

Reduced endothelial function in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome–results from open-label Cyclophosphamide intervention study, by Kari Sørland,  Miriam Kristine Sandvik,  Ingrid Gurvin Rekeland,  Lis Ribu,  Milada Cvancarova Småstuen,  Olav Mella and  Øystein Fluge in Front. Med., 22 March 2021 [doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.642710]

Read moreCollection page about ME research supported by the Kavli Foundation

Read the full translated article

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