Skeletal Muscle Dysfunction

One of the most characteristic symptoms among ME/CFS patients is post-exertional malaise (PEM). This condition follows physical exertion, cognitive exertion, or what is called “orthostatic stress” (a failure of the autonomic nervous system to properly balance heart rate and blood pressure when a person is upright for very long). Typically, PEM appears 12 – 72 hours after these physical, cognitive, or orthostatic stressors. The symptoms include increased fatigue, difficulty thinking (“brain fog”), as well as increased aching of the muscles.

Since PEM follows physical exertion, it is possible that abnormalities in the muscles may trigger the condition. We propose to examine at the molecular level the response of muscles to physical stress, in people with ME/CFS and in healthy people. This evaluation might give us insight into mechanisms of disease as well as suggestions for biomarkers and potential drug targets for treatment of PEM in ME/CFS patients.