Non-Invasive Diagnostic Test Project Seeks to Detect ME/CFS

maughan gleesonThis week, we highlight the Cathleen J. Gleeson PhD Fund and our collaborative partnership with the University of Washington on diagnostic testing in ME/CFS.

This study of diagnostics and metabolic imaging uses advanced, non-invasive magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) to measure muscle metabolites in ME/CFS patients before and after fatiguing exercise.

Pilot testing conducted earlier through this project compared a single patient with ME/CFS to that of a matched healthy control. Preliminary analysis revealed abnormal levels of certain metabolites, most notably NAD (P) H, in the ME/CFS subject compared to the healthy control. This result points to cellular metabolic dysfunction in a specific pathway that may itself promote and suffer from oxidative stress. The difference in metabolic profile was most pronounced the day following fatiguing exercise, mirroring a commonly reported timeline of symptoms for those with ME/CFS.

This preliminary data suggests that an abnormal response of NADP and its cofactor, NAD(P)H, may be a molecular marker for ME/CFS-related oxidative stress at the cellular level.

The proposed experiments are designed to test whether this abnormality is also observed in a larger set of subjects diagnosed with ME/CFS. Confirmation of the result would establish MRS as a powerful tool to non-invasively detect and measure a molecular signature of this disease. If successful, our research would establish a new, breakthrough research platform for understanding the molecular basis of ME/CFS.

This study is made possible by a grant from the Cathleen J. Gleeson PhD Fund and is led by Kevin Conley, PhD, professor of radiology and co-director of the Translational Center for Metabolic Imaging at the University of Washington and David Maughan, PhD, a professor emeritus of molecular physiology & biophysics at the University of Vermont and visiting scholar in radiology at the University of Washington.