Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Post-COVID Syndrome: A Common Neuroimmune Ground?

Varvara A. Ryabkova*, Natalia Y. Gavrilova, Tamara V. Fedotkina, Leonid P. Churilov, Yehuda Shoenfeld

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating chronic disease of unknown etiology, sharing a similar clinical presentation with the increasingly recognized post-COVID syndrome. We performed the first cross-sectional study of ME/CFS in a community population in Russia. Then we described and compared some clinical and pathophysiological characteristics of ME/CFS and post-COVID syndrome as neuroimmune disorders. Of the cohort of 76 individuals who suggested themselves as suffering from ME/CFS, 56 were diagnosed with ME/CFS by clinicians according to ≥1 of the four most commonly used case definitions. Of the cohort of 14 individuals with post-COVID-19 syndrome, 14 met the diagnostic criteria for ME/CFS. The severity of anxiety/depressive symptoms did not correlate with the severity of fatigue either in ME/CFS or in post-COVID ME/CFS. Still, a positive correlation was found between the severity of fatigue and 20 other symptoms of ME/CFS related to the domains of “post-exertional exhaustion”, “immune dysfunction”, “sleep disturbances”, “dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system”, “neurological sensory/motor disorders” and “pain syndromes”. Immunological abnormalities were identified in 12/12 patients with ME/CFS according to the results of laboratory testing. The prevalence of postural orthostatic tachycardia assessed in the active orthostatic test amounted to 37.5% in ME/CFS and 75.0% in post-COVID ME/CFS (the latter was higher than in healthy controls, p = 0.02). There was a more pronounced increase in heart rate starting from the 6th minute of the test in post-COVID ME/CFS compared with the control group. Assessment of the functional characteristics of microcirculation by laser doppler flowmetry revealed obvious and very similar changes in ME/CFS and post-COVID ME/CFS compared to the healthy controls. The identified laser doppler flowmetry pattern corresponded to the hyperemic form of microcirculation disorders usually observed in acute inflammatory response or in case of systemic vasoconstriction failure.

Original languageEnglish
Article number66
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Emirates Center for Mobility Research
Russian Scientific Foundation of the Russian Academy of Sciences22-15-00113
UAEU-ZU12T034, G00003715
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
United Arab Emirates University
Research Management Centre, International Islamic University MalaysiaRMCG20-023-0023


    • chronic fatigue syndrome
    • immune system
    • microcirculation
    • post-COVID syndrome
    • postural orthostatic tachycardia


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