NEWSBRIEF: Japanese researchers say they've found a protein in the blood of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) that could be used as a diagnostic marker, according to a press release. So far, their work doesn't appear to be published in a medical journal.
The Osaka City University team says it found extremely high levels of the protein, called alpha-MSH, in the blood and intermediate lobes of the pituitary glands of fatigued rats. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that's frequently low in ME/CFS, normally keeps alpha-MSH from getting too high, but the rats became less able to produce dopamine as they grew more fatigued.
The team then tested alpha-MSH levels in blood from 57 people with ME/CFS and 30 healthy people. In the ME/CFS group, the alpha-MSH level was about 50% higher than in the control group.
The researchers believe this could become a long-awaited diagnostic marker for ME/CFS. However, these results will need to be validated by further research.
A lot of researchers are looking for diagnostic markers for ME/CFS, and many of them are focusing on exercise-related changes because of the abnormal physiological reaction people with ME/CFS have to exertion, which is called post-exertional malaise.
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