Altered muscle membrane potential and redox status differentiates two subgroups of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome


  • Jammes Yves
  • Adjriou Nabil
  • Kipson Nathalie
  • Criado Christine
  • Charpin Caroline
  • Rebaudet Stanislas
  • Stavris Chloé
  • Guieu Régis
  • Fenouillet Emmanuel
  • Retornaz Frédérique


  • Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic
  • Muscle excitability
  • Oxidative stress
  • Potassium outflow

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Background: In myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), altered membrane excitability often occurs in exercising muscles demonstrating muscle dysfunction regardless of any psychiatric disorder. Increased oxi-dative stress is also present in many ME/CFS patients and could affect the membrane excitability of resting muscles. Methods: Seventy-two patients were examined at rest, during an incremental cycling exercise and during a 10-min post-exercise recovery period. All patients had at least four criteria leading to a diagnosis of ME/CFS. To explore muscle membrane excitability, M-waves were recorded during exercise (rectus femoris (RF) muscle) and at rest (flexor digi-torum longus (FDL) muscle). Two plasma markers of oxidative stress (thiobarbituric acid reactive substance (TBARS) and oxidation-reduction potential (ORP)) were measured. Plasma potassium (K +) concentration was also measured at rest and at the end of exercise to explore K + outflow. Results: Thirty-nine patients had marked M-wave alterations in both the RF and FDL muscles during and after exercise while the resting values of plasma TBARS and ORP were increased and exercise-induced K + outflow was decreased. In contrast, 33 other patients with a diagnosis of ME/CFS had no M-wave alterations and had lower base-line levels of TBARS and ORP. M-wave changes were inversely proportional to TBARS and ORP levels. Conclusions: Resting muscles of ME/CFS patients have altered muscle membrane excitability. However, our data reveal heterogeneity in some major biomarkers in ME/CFS patients. Measurement of ORP may help to improve the diagnosis of ME/CFS.

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