Clinical Science

Research article

Blood flow and muscle metabolism in chronic fatigue syndrome

Kevin K. McCULLY, Sinclair SMITH, Sheeva RAJAEI, John S. LEIGH Jr, Benjamin H. NATELSON


The purpose of this study was to determine if chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is associated with reduced blood flow and oxidative delivery to skeletal muscle. Patients with CFS according to CDC (Center for Disease Control) criteria (n=19) were compared with normal sedentary subjects (n=11). Muscle blood flow was measured with Doppler ultrasound after cuff ischaemia and exercise. Muscle oxygen delivery was measured as the rate of post-exercise and post-ischaemic oxygen-haem resaturation. Oxygen-haem resaturation was measured in the medial gastrocnemius muscle using continuous wavelength near-IR spectroscopy. Muscle metabolism was measured using 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy. CFS patients and controls were not different in the peak blood flow after cuff ischaemia, the rate of recovery of phosphocreatine after submaximal exercise, and the rate of recovery of oxygen saturation after cuff ischaemia. In conclusion, CFS patients showed no deficit in blood flow or oxidative metabolism. This suggests that CFS symptoms do not require abnormal peripheral function.

  • Doppler ultrasound
  • exercise
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • near-IR spectroscopy
  • oxidative metabolism
  • reactive hyperaemia