Longitudinal investigation of the gut microbiome in a Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) cohort

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2021

JAX Location

In: Student Reports, Summer 2021, The Jackson Laboratory


While the etiology and progression of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) remains unclear, observations of gut microbiota highlighted unique dysbiosis in patients as compared to healthy controls. When combined with aberrant immune responses, understanding shifts in the gut microbiome composition may help elucidate disease mechanisms or improve diagnostics. Previous investigations of gut microbiota lack the characterization of lesser-known bacterial species and rely on single timepoint data, leaving questions about the onset and maintenance of ME/CFS. Therefore, this project uses high-resolution metagenomic data to investigate the three-year longitudinal stability of the gut microbiome in short- and long-term ME/CFS patients as compared to healthy controls. Remaining fecal samples from an ongoing clinical study were sequenced and complete datasets were analyzed (n = 46) using custom computational workflows. The alpha diversity metrics revealed significant increases in healthy and short-term cohorts, suggesting stability in the microbial composition of long-term patients. Bray–Curtis distances demonstrated increased dissimilarity for healthy controls as opposed to ME/CFS patients and similarity across the timepoints of individual patients. Our preliminary work suggests that ME/CFS gut dysbiosis may stabilize with the progression of the disease and short-term patients may be optimal candidates for future exploratory research and developing diagnostics.

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