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Another positive result from South Australian ME/CFS research: Carnitine deficiency in ME/CFS sufferers

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Journal of Internal MedicineWe just had news recently that more SA researchers, Stephanie Reuter Lange and Professor Allan Evans with the School of Pharmacy and Medical Sciences and Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, have published their study into carnitine levels in ME/CFS sufferers. It was published in the Journal of Internal Medicine. Some of our members participated in this research and have recently received a copy of the article sent by Stephanie which is much appreciated.

This provides more tangible evidence that ME/CFS is real and diagnosable and our president, James feels that it provides another direction for future Australian research and that given the cost to society of our illness that it would be foolish for the government not to put funding into it.


Longchain acylcarnitine deficiency in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Potential involvement of altered carnitine palmitoyltransferaseI activity

Journal of Internal Medicine
Volume 270, Issue 1, pages 76–84, July 2011

S. E. Reuter1,2, A. M. Evans1,2

Article first published online: 19 JAN 2011
DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2796.2010.02341.x

© 2011 The Association for the Publication of the Journal of Internal Medicine

acylcarnitine; carnitine; carnitine palmitoyltransferase; chronic fatigue syndrome; fatty acid

Abstract. Reuter SE, Evans AM (School of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia; Sansom Institute for Health Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia). Long-chain acylcarnitine deficiency in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Potential involvement of altered carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I activity. J Intern Med 2011; 270: 76–84.

Objective. The underlying aetiology of chronic fatigue syndrome is currently unknown; however, in the light of carnitine’s critical role in mitochondrial energy production, it has been suggested that chronic fatigue syndrome may be associated with altered carnitine homeostasis. This study was conducted to comparatively examine full endogenous carnitine profiles in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and healthy controls.

Design. A cross-sectional, observational study.

Setting and subjects. Forty-four patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 49 age- and gender-matched healthy controls were recruited from the community and studied at the School of Pharmacy & Medical Sciences, University of South Australia.

Main outcome measures. All participants completed a fatigue severity scale questionnaire and had a single fasting blood sample collected which was analysed for l-carnitine and 35 individual acylcarnitine concentrations in plasma by LC-MS/MS.

Results. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome exhibited significantly altered concentrations of C8:1, C12DC, C14, C16:1, C18, C18:1, C18:2 and C18:1-OH acylcarnitines; of particular note, oleyl-l-carnitine (C18:1) and linoleyl-l-carnitine (C18:2) were, on average, 30–40% lower in patients than controls (P < 0.0001). Significant correlations between acylcarnitine concentrations and clinical symptomology were also demonstrated.

Conclusions. It is proposed that this disturbance in carnitine homeostasis is reflective of a reduction in carnitine palmitoyltransferase-I (CPT-I) activity, possibly a result of the accumulation of omega-6 fatty acids previously observed in this patient population. It is hypothesized that the administration of omega-3 fatty acids in combination with l-carnitine would increase CPT-I activity and improve chronic fatigue syndrome symptomology.


The results originally appeared here.



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