MRI Reveals Pathophysiology of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

(HealthDay News) — The brains of people with chronic fatigue syndrome have less white matter than those who don’t, according to new research published online in Radiology.

Senior author Jose Montoya, MD, from the Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and his team have been following 200 people with chronic fatigue syndrome for several years, hoping to improve diagnosis and treatment. In order to gain a better understanding of the condition, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging technology to compare the brains of 15 of these patients with 14 similar people without the condition or any related symptoms.

The researchers identified a specific brain abnormality among the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, found in the right arcuate fasciculus. There was a strong link between the severity of this abnormality and the severity of chronic fatigue syndrome. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome also had a thickening of the gray matter in two areas of their brain connected by the right arcuate fasciculus.

The researchers said that despite the strength of their findings, the results should be confirmed with more research. “This study was a start,” lead author Michael Zeineh, MD, PhD, said in a Stanford news release. “It shows us where to look.”


  1. Zeineh MM et al. Radiology. 2014; doi:10.1148/radiol.14141079