Differentiating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Lyme Disease

Both chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and Lyme disease can result in profound exhaustion that may be prolonged and debilitating. It can be accompanied by either excessive sleeping or insomnia. Yet oftentimes these diseases are dismissed by family, friends and physicians or attributed to simple tiredness from overwork or stress.

For such patients, hope may be in sight.  A new study reveals that researchers have discovered a test that can distinguish patients with Lyme disease from those with chronic fatigue syndrome, and also from people in normal health.

In the study, investigators analyzed spinal fluid from 43 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, 25 people who had been diagnosed with and treated for Lyme disease, (neurologic post-treatment Lyme disease – nPTLS) and 11 healthy people.

Until now, there have been no known biomarkers to distinguish between Lyme disease and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome , nor strong evidence that the central nervous system was involved in the two conditions.

“Spinal fluid is like a liquid window to the brain,” says Steven E. Schutzer MD, of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

The researchers identified 738 proteins present only in the spinal fluid of CFS patients and 692 proteins found only in the spinal fluid of nPTLS patients.

One next step will be to find the best biomarkers that will give conclusive diagnostic results,” said Dr. Schutzer. “In addition, if a protein pathway is found to influence either disease, scientists could then develop treatments to target that particular pathway.”

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