Task related cerebral blood flow changes of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: an arterial spin labeling study

Roland Staud, Jeff Boissoneault, Jason G. Craggs, Song Lai, Michael E. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: One hallmark of chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is task related worsening of fatigue. Global brain hypoperfusion, abnormal regional activation, and altered functional connectivity of brain areas associated with cognition and memory have been reported but remain controversial. Methods: We enrolled 17 female participants fulfilling the CDC Criteria for ME/CFS and 16 matched healthy controls (HC). Using a 3T-Phillips Achieva MRI-scanner, pseudo-continuous arterial spin-labeling (pCASL), was used to study the dynamics of regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and their relationship to mental fatigue in ME/CFS patients and HC during a demanding cognitive task, i.e. modified Paced-Auditory-Serial-Addition-Testing (PASAT). Results: ME/CFS subjects reported more fatigue than HC at baseline (p <.01). Global brain perfusion of ME/CFS and HC subjects was similar at rest. The PASAT resulted in significantly increased fatigue in ME/CFS participants and HC. Although not different between groups, overall CBF significantly increased over the first 3 min of the PASAT and then decreased thereafter. Regional CBF (rCBF) changes were significantly different between groups during the post-task recovery period. Whereas improvement of fatigue of ME/CFS subjects was associated with decreased rCBF in both superior temporal gyri (STG), precuneus, and fusiform gyrus, it was associated with increased rCBF in the same areas in HC. Conclusions: Our results suggest that ME/CFS is associated with normal global CBF at rest and during a strenuous task (PASAT); however rCBF of several brain regions associated with memory, goal-oriented attention, and visual function was differentially associated with recovery from fatigue in ME/CFS patients and HC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-79
Number of pages17
JournalFatigue: Biomedicine, Health and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, Institute of Nursing Research [R01 NR014049] and Center for Advancing Translational Science [UL1 TR001427]. The expert assistance Ricky Madhavan, and Yesenia M. Lucas is gratefully acknowledged. We also would like to thank Donald D. Price, Ph.D. (deceased) for his valuable input.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 IACFS/ME.


  • Arterial spin labeling
  • chronic fatigue
  • regional cerebral blood flow


Dive into the research topics of 'Task related cerebral blood flow changes of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: an arterial spin labeling study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this