Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling illness of unknown etiology that is characterized by fatigue associated with a reduced ability to work, lasting for more than 6 months, and accompanied by a specific set of symptoms. The diagnosis remains difficult because of the absence of laboratory tests and is, therefore, made largely on the basis of the symptoms reported by the patient. The aim of this study was to analyze differences in blood nitrate levels in CFS patients and a matched control group after a physical exercise test.
Forty-four consecutive female patients with CFS and 25 healthy women performed an exercise test using a cycle ergometer with monitoring of cardiopulmonary response. Blood samples were obtained for biochemical analyses of glucose, lactate, and nitrates at the beginning (under resting conditions) and after the maximal and supramaximal tests.
Plasma nitrates differed between the groups, with higher values in the CFS group (F = 6.93, p = 0.003). Nitrate concentration increased in relation to workload and reached higher values in the CFS group, the maximum difference with respect to the control group being 295% (t = 4.88, p < 0.001).
The main result of the present study is that nitric oxide (NO) metabolites (nitrates) showed a much higher increase after a maximal physical test in CFS patients than in a group of matched subjects. This combination (exercise plus NO response evaluation) may be useful in the assessment of CFS.
Nitric oxide metabolite production during exercise in chronic fatigue syndrome: a case-control study, by A Suárez et al in J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2010 Jun;19(6):1073-7