Background: Patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) or Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease (SEID) present with a constellation of symptoms including debilitating fatigue that is unrelieved by rest. The pathomechanisms underlying this illness are not fully understood and the search for a biomarker continues, mitochondrial aberrations have been suggested as a possible candidate. The aim of this systematic review is to collate and appraise current literature on mitochondrial changes in ME/CFS/SEID patients compared to healthy controls.
Methods: Embase, PubMed, Scopus and Medline (EBSCO host) were systematically searched for articles assessing mitochondrial changes in ME/CFS/SEID patients compared to healthy controls published between January 1995 and February 2020. The list of articles was further refined using specific inclusion and exclusion criteria. Quality and bias were measured using the Joanna Briggs Institute Critical Appraisal Checklist for Case Control Studies.
Results: Nineteen studies were included in this review. The included studies investigated mitochondrial structural and functional differences in ME/CFS/SEID patients compared with healthy controls. Outcomes addressed by the papers include changes in mitochondrial structure, deoxyribonucleic acid/ribonucleic acid, respiratory function, metabolites, and coenzymes.
Conclusion: Based on the included articles in the review it is difficult to establish the role of mitochondria in the pathomechanisms of ME/CFS/SEID due to inconsistencies across the studies. Future well-designed studies using the same ME/CFS/SEID diagnostic criteria and analysis methods are required to determine possible mitochondrial involvement in the pathomechanisms of ME/CFS/SEID.
Keywords: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome; Energy metabolism; Mitochondria; Myalgic Encephalomyelitis; Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease.