A study by the University of Oviedo links fibromyalgia with chronic fatigue syndrome

The research, in collaboration with scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the NIH in Washington, confirms the existence of a set of repressed genes associated with three main genetic pathways.

Juan Luis Fernández MartÃnez

Research developed by a team from the University of Oviedo, in collaboration with scientists from Johns Hopkins University and the NIH in Washington, has  linked fibromyalgia with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The studies have provided a genetic signature on a small scale and have confirmed the existence of a set of repressed genes associated with three main genetic pathways, with “great biological sense” and that connect it with the chronic fatigue syndrome, the academic institution has reported. Asturian in a statement. Fibromyalgia is considered a syndrome that can cause increased sensitivity to pain, fatigue, muscle stiffness, sleep problems, possible loss of memory and concentration, headaches or digestive problems, reports EFE.

The symptoms are varied and their diagnosis is complicated , and can be confused with chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis or even multiple sclerosis. In addition, there is no consensus in its diagnosis and the criteria, which have a high degree of subjectivity, have been changed over the years. This difficulty has caused that sometimes it is known as “the invisible pain” and that those who suffer it feel misunderstood, with a state of permanent frustration that often aggravates their condition. In addition,  fibromyalgia could be called a “female disease”, since it statistically affects women more than men. Its causes are unknown and are associated with different events that include viral infections, surgical operations, deliveries, affective events and even abuses. 

The results obtained come from the modeling of a genetic study carried out in a cohort of 28 women diagnosed with fibromyalgia between 28 and 55 years old, in comparison with healthy volunteers between the ages of 28 and 51. The studies provide a small genetic signature scale composed of 57 genes for diagnosis.

The analyzes showed that the three most important altered genetic pathways are related to the activation of hepatic stellate cells (hepatic adipocytes) that are indicative of lesions in this organ; oxidative phosphorylation and COPD-type respiratory pathologies (obstructive pulmonary disease). Although these results are preliminary and difficult to interpret, it seems to confirm an important role of the signaling pathway of glutamate, a neurotransmitter with great importance in chronic fatigue and depression.

They also present an altered expression of genes related to the attenuation of the metabolic rate and of the inflammatory pathways associated with Interferon alfa, a cytokine involved in the regulation of the immune response against infections. Professor Juan Luis Fernández-Martínez emphasizes the importance of translational research whose results impact on the medicine that patients receive, something that, he says, the American teams with which he collaborates are highly incorporated.

Fernández-Martínez has stated that, «in the absence of clinical confirmation», these results connect fibromyalgia with chronic fatigue syndrome, so the objective now would be to study the differences between them, as well as the mechanisms that are common and compare them with altered pathways in Multiple Sclerosis. According to the researchers, these results not only have a diagnostic value, but also allow the search for new therapeutic targets  and the repositioning of drugs that are able to optimally regulate the altered genes and minimize side effects.

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