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  • Adriano dos Santos

Understanding Gut Dysbiosis in ME/CFS: New Insights on the Bacterial Signature

Living with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) can be a challenging and debilitating experience. Recent studies have shed light on the connection between gut health and ME/CFS symptoms. In this blog post, we will explore the findings of two groundbreaking studies published in Cell Host & Microbe, which reveal a robust bacterial signature of gut dysbiosis in individuals with ME/CFS. These studies highlight the importance of understanding the role of the gastrointestinal microbiome and its impact on this chronic illness.

Living with ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Study 1: The Role of Butyrate-Producing Bacteria The first study, conducted by researchers in Germany, focused on individuals with type 2 diabetes. They found disruptions in the gut microbiome, leading to reduced production of a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate is vital for gut health, as it provides energy to intestinal cells, strengthens the intestinal barrier, regulates immune functions, and controls metabolic processes. The researchers discovered that a decrease in butyrate-producing bacteria was associated with disease. These findings indicate that butyrate plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut environment.

Study 2: Microbiome Disruptions and Immune System Dysfunction Another study, led by Julia Oh from the Jackson Laboratory and Brent Williams from Columbia University, focused specifically on individuals with ME/CFS. The researchers utilized shotgun metagenomics to compare the gut microbiome of ME/CFS patients with that of healthy controls. The study divided ME/CFS patients into two groups: those with short-term symptoms and those with long-term symptoms.

The findings revealed that individuals with short-term ME/CFS exhibited a depletion of butyrate-producing microbes in their gut. On the other hand, the gut microbiomes of individuals with long-term ME/CFS were more similar to those of healthy controls, indicating a reestablishment of the microbiome. However, the long-term ME/CFS group showed significant changes in metabolites and immune-related factors in their blood plasma. The severity of fatigue symptoms was correlated with specific species of gut bacteria, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, a known butyrate producer.

Implications and Future Research

These groundbreaking studies offer valuable insights into the connection between gut dysbiosis and ME/CFS. The findings suggest that disruptions in the gut microbiome contribute to immune system dysfunction observed in individuals with ME/CFS. Understanding these underlying mechanisms could pave the way for potential interventions targeting diet, probiotics, prebiotics, or synbiotics to alleviate chronic symptoms associated with ME/CFS.


As we continue to unravel the complexities of ME/CFS, the role of gut health and the microbiome emerges as a critical factor influencing the disease. The studies discussed here shed light on the robust bacterial signature of gut dysbiosis in ME/CFS patients. These findings provide hope for future research and therapeutic interventions that aim to improve the quality of life for millions of individuals living with this chronic condition. By addressing gut dysbiosis and restoring a healthy balance of bacteria, we may open new doors towards managing and treating ME/CFS effectively.


  1. “Multi-‘omics of gut microbiome-host interactions in short- and long-term Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) patients”. Cell Host & Microbe 2023, Feb:

  2. Variation of butyrate production in the gut microbiome in type 2 diabetes patients.Int Microbiol 2023, Feb 13:

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