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Sex-specific plasma lipid profiles of ME/CFS patients and their association with pain, fatigue, and cognitive symptoms (Nkiliza et al., 2021)


Senior Member
U.S., Earth
Sex-specific plasma lipid profiles of ME/CFS patients and their association with pain, fatigue, and cognitive symptoms (Nkiliza et al., 2021)

Research on phospholipid levels from Nancy Klimas and colleagues.

Nkiliza et al 2021 said:
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex illness which disproportionally affects females. This illness is associated with immune and metabolic perturbations that may be influenced by lipid metabolism. We therefore hypothesized that plasma lipids from ME/CFS patients will provide a unique biomarker signature of disturbances in immune, inflammation and metabolic processes associated with ME/CFS.

Lipidomic analyses were performed on plasma from a cohort of 50 ME/CFS patients and 50 controls (50% males and similar age and ethnicity per group). Analyses were conducted with nano-flow liquid chromatography (nLC) and high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) systems coupled with a high mass accuracy ORBITRAP mass spectrometer, allowing detection of plasma lipid concentration ranges over three orders of magnitude. We examined plasma phospholipids (PL), neutral lipids (NL) and bioactive lipids in ME/CFS patients and controls and examined the influence of sex on the relationship between lipids and ME/CFS diagnosis.

Among females, levels of total phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), omega-6 arachidonic acid-containing PE, and total hexosylceramides (HexCer) were significantly decreased in ME/CFS compared to controls. In males, levels of total HexCer, monounsaturated PE, phosphatidylinositol (PI), and saturated triglycerides (TG) were increased in ME/CFS patients compared to controls. Additionally, omega-6 linoleic acid-derived oxylipins were significantly increased in male ME/CFS patients versus male controls. Principal component analysis (PCA) identified three major components containing mostly PC and a few PE, PI and SM species-all of which were negatively associated with headache and fatigue severity, irrespective of sex. Correlations of oxylipins, ethanolamides and ME/CFS symptom severity showed that lower concentrations of these lipids corresponded with an increase in the severity of headaches, fatigue and cognitive difficulties and that this association was influenced by sex.

The observed sex-specific pattern of dysregulated PL, NL, HexCer and oxylipins in ME/CFS patients suggests a possible role of these lipids in promoting immune dysfunction and inflammation which may be among the underlying factors driving the clinical presentation of fatigue, chronic pain, and cognitive difficulties in ill patients. Further evaluation of lipid metabolism pathways is warranted to better understand ME/CFS pathogenesis.