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ME/CFS and Non-Linear Mathematical Biology

Wishful

Senior Member
Messages
5,634
Location
Alberta
I know: What??? I was reading a book (Sync, by Steven Strogatz) which involved studies of biological systems involving non-linear math, and realized that ME/CFS might involve non-linear cell functions pushed into chaos. I had been thinking that ME/CFS was caused by a linear feedback loop, with some parameters being shifted by immune system activation to the point where positive feedback locked the body into an abnormal state, and that might be the case. However, biological systems tend to be non-linear, particularly for the immune system (a few viral cells can trigger a huge response). Such complex non-linear systems can switch from normal function into chaotic function, and get locked into that state. Shifting just a few parameters a little bit can be enough to cause the shift into chaos, or at least make the system become very sensitive to a change in another parameter that normally doesn't cause a problem.

I'm not sure how this would help understanding ME/CFS at this point. It still comes down to finding parameters that are abnormal for ME/CFS victims. It might help provide better treatments, if the dosage is non-linear. I'm posting this to provoke thought.

The book focuses on coupled oscillators (common in biological systems), and that too could play a role in ME/CFS. I have no clear idea how that might work, but is a possibility. Maybe microglia communicate in a way that they normally synchronize, and ME/CFS alters that. Maybe a gland normally synchronizes with the main circadian rhythm at a 1:1 ratio, but in ME/CFS it switches to a 3:2 ratio or whatever, screwing up everything. Again, something to think about.

If ME/CFS does prove to be the result of non-linear effects, understanding it might be more difficult, because of the complexity and number of subtle parameters that might be involved. For example, instead of a simple genetic cause (more or fewer copies of a gene), it could be that the gene is simply a bit more or less active due to folding or position, which causes a small hard-to-notice direct change, but a huge change in the overall system, like the 'butterfly flapping it's wings causing a hurricane on the other side of the world months later' effect.

Luckily, complete understanding of a complex non-linear system isn't required for coming up with a treatment. If they can find some abnormal levels of some chemicals, they could treat that, hopefully breaking the chaotic state. I'll settle for that. :)
 

nanonug

Senior Member
Messages
1,709
Location
Virginia, USA
I was reading a book (Sync, by Steven Strogatz) which involved studies of biological systems involving non-linear math, and realized that ME/CFS might involve non-linear cell functions pushed into chaos.

This is the basis for the Cortene peptide "thingy". The HPA axis has been modeled as a non-linear system and exhibits bistability. The idea behind the Cortene peptide is to use a urocortin-2 analog (if memory serves me right) to shift from a stable but pathogenic HPA state to the other stable and "normal" state.

PS. BTW, I am of the opinion that the Cortene peptide treatment will fail for SEID not because the bistable model is wrong but because HPA axis dysfunction is far from being specific to SEID. HPA axis dysfunction appears to me to be more of a consequence than a cause in many if not most conditions.