Skin Temperature Circadian Rhythms and Dysautonomia in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: The Role of Endothelin-1 in the Vascular Tone Dysregulation

Int J Mol Sci. 2023 Mar 2;24(5):4835. doi: 10.3390/ijms24054835.


There is accumulating evidence of autonomic dysfunction in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS); however, little is known about its association with circadian rhythms and endothelial dysfunction. This study aimed to explore the autonomic responses through an orthostatic test and analysis of the peripheral skin temperature variations and vascular endothelium state in ME/CFS patients. Sixty-seven adult female ME/CFS patients and 48 healthy controls were enrolled. Demographic and clinical characteristics were assessed using validated self-reported outcome measures. Postural changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and wrist temperature were recorded during the orthostatic test. Actigraphy during one week was used to determine the 24-h profile of peripheral temperature and activity. Circulating endothelial biomarkers were measured as indicators of endothelial functioning. Results showed that ME/CFS patients presented higher blood pressure and heart rate values than healthy controls in the supine and standing position (p < 0.05 for both), and also a higher amplitude of the activity rhythm (p < 0.01). Circulating levels of endothelin-1 (ET-1) and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) were significantly higher in ME/CFS (p < 0.05). In ME/CFS, ET-1 levels were associated with the stability of the temperature rhythm (p < 0.01), and also with the self-reported questionnaires (p < 0.001). This suggests that ME/CFS patients exhibited modifications in circadian rhythm and hemodynamic measures, which are associated with endothelial biomarkers (ET-1 and VCAM-1). Future investigation in this area is needed to assess dysautonomia and vascular tone abnormalities, which may provide potential therapeutic targets for ME/CFS.

Keywords: chronic fatigue syndrome; circadian rhythms; endothelin-1; myalgic encephalomyelitis; skin temperature.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Endothelin-1* / physiology
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic* / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Primary Dysautonomias* / physiopathology
  • Skin Temperature*
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1


  • Biomarkers
  • Endothelin-1
  • Vascular Cell Adhesion Molecule-1