NIH Director’s Blog Highlights JAX and Columbia Research


The NIH Director’s Blog this week is featuring two recent studies on the microbiome in ME/CFS, including our study plus a study by W. Ian Lipkin’s group from Columbia University, which were both just published in the latest issue of the journal Cell Host & Microbe on February 8, 2023. The studies were funded in part by NIH’s ME/CFS Collaborative Research Network, a consortium supported by multiple institutes and centers at NIH, consisting of three collaborative research centers and a data management coordinating center.

In the blog post, NIH Director Lawrence A. Tabak, D.D.S., Ph.D. explains the importance of this new research, as well as delving into the findings of the two studies in detail. He explains that it is important to see a more collaborative approach to ME/CFS research, as the hope in supporting the Research Network was to cut through the complexity of this disease and help the millions of people suffering from ME/CFS.

To read the NIH Director’s Blog, click here.

New JAX Publication: Multi-‘omics of host-microbiome interactions in short- and long-term ME/CFS


We are very excited to announce that JAX investigators in the labs of Julia Oh, PhD and Derya Unutmaz, MD have a new article that was just published today in Cell Host & Microbe. The study delves into host-microbiome interactions in ME/CFS and the potential metabolic consequences that result from these interactions.

ME/CFS is a complex and heterogeneous chronic condition that is highly debilitating and often characterized by persistent, unexplained fatigue not alleviated by rest, muscle and joint pain, sleep problems, and post-exertional malaise (PEM). There is no clear diagnostic test for the disease, so obtaining a diagnosis and medical support can be extremely difficult for patients to achieve, and patients are often dismissed entirely or told that their condition is caused by mental health issues. The JAX investigators hoped to remove some of these obstacles patients experience by answering the question of what’s different in ME/CFS patients that causes such debilitating disease.

Previous studies have suggested there is an altered gut microbiota in ME/CFS, which could be the cause of gastrointestinal problems often associated with the disease. These studies were small however, so the JAX team extended the interrogation of the gut microbiome by performing extensive high-throughput analyses of the study participants. Participants included ME/CFS patients divided into two groups – those with short-term disease who were diagnosed less than four years ago and those with long-term disease who were diagnosed more than ten years ago, as well as sex- and age-matched healthy controls.

Interestingly, the team found that microbial communities in ME/CFS patients were more uneven but less diverse than in healthy controls, with dysbiosis similar to what is seen with aging and chronic inflammatory disorders. When the ME/CFS group was stratified to compare the gut microbiome between the short-term and long-term groups, the researchers found that the short-term group had a more significant disruption in their gut microbiome, while the long-term group looked more similar to healthy controls.

Mark Wanner has also released a Research Highlight article on the Jackson Laboratory website, where he explains the study in detail and speculates on what the findings could mean for the metabolism and for understanding the mechanisms underlying ME/CFS, as well as potential biomarker discovery for the disease.

To read the article on Cell Host & Microbe, click here.
To read the Research Highlight by Mark Wanner, click here.
To read an NIH press release about the study, click here.