Purpose: To examine progressive brain changes associated with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
Materials and methods: We investigated progressive brain changes with longitudinal MRI in 15 CFS and 10 normal controls (NCs) scanned twice 6 years apart on the same 1.5 Tesla (T) scanner. MR images yielded gray matter (GM) volumes, white matter (WM) volumes, and T1- and T2-weighted signal intensities (T1w and T2w). Each participant was characterized with Bell disability scores, and somatic and neurological symptom scores. We tested for differences in longitudinal changes between CFS and NC groups, inter group differences between pooled CFS and pooled NC populations, and correlations between MRI and symptom scores using voxel based morphometry. The analysis methodologies were first optimized using simulated atrophy.
Results: We found a significant decrease in WM volumes in the left inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFOF) in CFS while in NCs it was unchanged (family wise error adjusted cluster level P value, PFWE < 0.05). This longitudinal finding was consolidated by the group comparisons which detected significantly decreased regional WM volumes in adjacent regions (PFWE < 0.05) and decreased GM and blood volumes in contralateral regions (PFWE < 0.05). Moreover, the regional GM and WM volumes and T2w in those areas showed significant correlations with CFS symptom scores (PFWE < 0.05).
Conclusion: The results suggested that CFS is associated with IFOF WM deficits which continue to deteriorate at an abnormal rate. J. Magn. Reson. Imaging 2016;44:1301-1311.
Keywords: chronic fatigue syndrome; inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus; longitudinal MRI; voxel based morphometry.
© 2016 The Authors Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Magnetic Resonance in Medicine.