Integration of DNA methylation & health scores identifies subtypes in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome

Epigenomics. 2018 May;10(5):539-557. doi: 10.2217/epi-2017-0150. Epub 2018 Apr 25.


Aim: To identify subtypes in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) based on DNA methylation profiles and health scores.

Methods: DNA methylome profiles in immune cells were integrated with symptomatology from 70 women with ME/CFS using similarity network fusion to identify subtypes.

Results: We discovered four ME/CFS subtypes associated with DNA methylation modifications in 1939 CpG sites, three RAND-36 categories and five DePaul Symptom Questionnaire measures. Methylation patterns of immune response genes and differences in physical functioning and postexertional malaise differentiated the subtypes.

Conclusion: ME/CFS subtypes are associated with specific DNA methylation differences and health symptomatology and provide additional evidence of the potential relevance of metabolic and immune differences in ME/CFS with respect to specific symptoms.

Keywords: CFS; DNA methylation; chronic fatigue syndrome; clinical subtyping; complex disease; epigenetics; health survey; myalgic encephalomyelitis; similarity network fusion; symptom heterogeneity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • DNA Methylation*
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / classification*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires