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The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12967-018-1473-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is clinically defined and characterised by persistent disabling tiredness and exertional malaise, leading to functional impairment.
This study introduces the weighted standing time (WST) as a proxy for ME/CFS severity, and investigates its behaviour in an Australian cohort. WST was calculated from standing time and subjective standing difficulty data, collected via orthostatic intolerance assessments. The distribution of WST for healthy controls and ME/CFS patients was correlated with the clinical criteria, as well as pathology and cytokine markers. Included in the WST cytokine analyses were activins A and B, cytokines causally linked to inflammation, and previously demonstrated to separate ME/CFS from healthy controls. Forty-five ME/CFS patients were recruited from the CFS Discovery Clinic (Victoria) between 2011 and 2013. Seventeen healthy controls were recruited concurrently and identically assessed.
WST distribution was significantly different between ME/CFS participants and controls, with six diagnostic criteria, five analytes and one cytokine also significantly different when comparing severity via WST. On direct comparison of ME/CFS to study controls, only serum activin B was significantly elevated, with no significant variation observed for a broad range of serum and urine markers, or other serum cytokines.
The enhanced understanding of standing test behaviour to reflect orthostatic intolerance as a ME/CFS symptom, and the subsequent calculation of WST, will encourage the greater implementation of this simple test as a measure of ME/CFS diagnosis, and symptom severity, to the benefit of improved diagnosis and guidance for potential treatments.