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Studies Link Microbiome Dysfunction, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is associated with reduced levels of microbes that produce the fatty acid butyrate with patients' gut microbiomes, according to a pair of studies appearing this week in Cell Host & Microbe. The findings may help better understand the causes of ME/CFS and point to new therapeutic targets. In the first study, a team led by scientists from The Jackson Laboratory used shotgun metagenomics to analyze stool samples from about 150 individuals with short- and long-term ME/CFS along with 79 healthy controls, combining their findings with analyses of plasma samples from the patients. They find that people with short-term disease had the most significant microbial and gastrointestinal abnormalities, with decreased levels of butyrate-producing microbes. Long-term patients tended to have stable gut microbiomes, but also significantly more irreversible health problems and progressive metabolic aberrations. In the second study, a Columbia University-led group applied shotgun metagenomic sequencing to stool samples of 106 ME/CFS patients and 91 healthy controls. The researchers also uncovered substantial gut microbiome dysbiosis in patients, including a reduction in butyrate-producing bacteria. Notably, lower levels of these bacteria correlated to more severe fatigue symptoms. Together, the findings of the two studies shed light on microbiome disturbances and their relationship with ME/CFS.

The Scan

Machine Learning Helps ID Molecular Mechanisms of Pancreatic Islet Beta Cell Subtypes in Type 2 Diabetes

The approach helps overcome limitations of previous studies that had investigated the molecular mechanisms of pancreatic islet beta cells, the authors write in their Nature Genetics paper.

Culture-Based Methods, Shotgun Sequencing Reveal Transmission of Bifidobacterium Strains From Mothers to Infants

In a Nature Communications study, culture-based approaches along with shotgun sequencing give a better picture of the microbial strains transmitted from mothers to infants.

Microbial Communities Can Help Trees Adapt to Changing Climates

Tree seedlings that were inoculated with microbes from dry, warm, or cold sites could better survive drought, heat, and cold stress, according to a study in Science.

A Combination of Genetics and Environment Causes Cleft Lip

In a study published in Nature Communications, researchers investigate what combination of genetic and environmental factors come into play to cause cleft lip/palate.