Review abstract:

The High Costs of Low-Grade Inflammation: Persistent Fatigue as a Consequence of Reduced Cellular-Energy Availability and Non-adaptive Energy Expenditure. by Tamara E. Lacourt, Elisabeth G. Vichaya, Gabriel S. Chiu, Robert Dantzer and Cobi J. Heijnen in Front Behav Neurosci. 2018 Apr 26;12:78.

Chronic or persistent fatigue is a common, debilitating symptom of several diseases. Persistent fatigue has been associated with low-grade inflammation in several models of fatigue, including cancer-related fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, it is unclear how low-grade inflammation leads to the experience of fatigue. We here propose a model of an imbalance in energy availability and energy expenditure as a consequence of low-grade inflammation.

In this narrative review, we discuss how chronic low-grade inflammation can lead to reduced cellular-energy availability. Low-grade inflammation induces a metabolic switch from energy-efficient oxidative phosphorylation to fast-acting, but less efficient, aerobic glycolytic energy production; increases reactive oxygen species; and reduces insulin sensitivity.  These effects result in reduced glucose availability and, thereby, reduced cellular energy. In addition, emerging evidence suggests that chronic low-grade inflammation is associated with increased willingness to exert effort under specific circumstances.

Circadian-rhythm changes and sleep disturbances might mediate the effects of inflammation on cellular-energy availability and non-adaptive energy expenditure.

In the second part of the review, we present evidence for these metabolic pathways in models of persistent fatigue, focusing on chronic fatigue syndrome and cancer-related fatigue. Most evidence for reduced cellular-energy availability in relation to fatigue comes from studies on chronic fatigue syndrome. While the mechanistic evidence from the cancer-related fatigue literature is still limited, the sparse results point to reduced cellular-energy availability as well.

There is also mounting evidence that behavioral-energy expenditure exceeds the reduced cellular-energy availability in patients with persistent fatigue. This suggests that an inability to adjust energy expenditure to available resources might be one mechanism underlying persistent fatigue.

Major Research Group Highlights Inflammation Energy Production Connection in ME/CFS, by Cort Johnson, 30 June 2018

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