Immunosignature Analysis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

Mol Neurobiol. 2019 Jun;56(6):4249-4257. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1354-8. Epub 2018 Oct 8.


A random-sequence peptide microarray can interrogate serum antibodies in a broad, unbiased fashion to generate disease-specific immunosignatures. This approach has been applied to cancer detection, diagnosis of infections, and interrogation of vaccine response. We hypothesized that there is an immunosignature specific to ME/CFS and that this could aid in the diagnosis. We studied two subject groups meeting the Canadian Consensus Definition of ME/CFS. ME/CFS (n = 25) and matched control (n = 25) sera were obtained from a Canadian study. ME/CFS (n = 25) sera were obtained from phase 1/2 Norwegian trials (NCT01156909). Sera from six healthy controls from the USA were included in the analysis. Canadian cases and controls were tested for a disease immunosignature. By combining results from unsupervised and supervised analyses, a candidate immunosignature with 654 peptides was able to differentiate ME/CFS from controls. The immunosignature was tested and further refined using the Norwegian and USA samples. This resulted in a 256-peptide immunosignature with the ability to separate ME/CFS cases from controls in the international data sets. We were able to identify a 256-peptide signature that separates ME/CFS samples from healthy controls, suggesting that the hit-and-run hypothesis of immune dysfunction merits further investigation. By extending testing of both our signature and one previously reported in the literature to larger cohorts, and further interrogating the specific peptides we and others have identified, we may deepen our understanding of the origins of ME/CFS and work towards a clinically meaningful diagnostic biomarker.

Keywords: Diagnosis; Immunosignatures; Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome; Peptides.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial, Phase II

MeSH terms

  • Area Under Curve
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / blood
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Peptides