Circadian Rhythm of Core Body Temperature in Subjects with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

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Clinical Physiology





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The pathophysiological basis for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) remains poorly understood. Certain symptoms of CFS, namely fatigue, neurocognitive symptoms and sleep disturbance, are similar to those of acute jet lag and shift work syndromes thus raising the possibility that CFS might be a condition associated with disturbances in endogenous circadian rhythms. In this study, we tested this hypothesis by examining the circadian rhythm of core body temperature (CBT) in CFS and control subjects. Continuous recordings of CBT were obtained every 5 min over 48 h in a group of 10 subjects who met the Center for Disease Control (CDC) definition of CFS and 10 normal control subjects. Subjects in the two groups were age, sex and weight-matched and were known to have normal basal metabolic rates and thyroid function. CBT recordings were performed under ambulatory conditions in a clinical research centre with the use of an ingestible radio frequency transmitter pill and a belt-worn receiver-logger. CBT time series were analysed by a cosinor analysis and by a harmonic-regression-plus-correlated-noise model to estimate the mean, amplitude and phase angle of the rhythm. The goodness of fit of each model was also compared using the Akaike Information Criterion (AIC) and sigma2. Average parameters for each group were compared by Student's t-test. By cosinor analysis, the only significant difference between CFS and control groups was in the phase angle of the third harmonic (P=0.02). The optimal harmonic-regression-plus-correlated-noise models selected were ARMA(1,1): control 7, CFS 6; ARMA(2,0): control 1, CFS 4; and ARMA(2,1): control 2 subjects. The optimal fit ARMA model contained two harmonics in eight of 10 control subjects but was more variable in the CFS subjects (1 harmonic: 5 subjects; 2 harmonics: 1 subject; 3 harmonics: 4 subjects). The goodness of fit measures for the optimal ARMA model were also better in the control than the CFS group, but the differences were not statistically significant. We conclude that, measured under ambulatory conditions, the circadian rhythm of CBT in CFS is nearly indistinguishable from that of normal control subjects although there was a tendency for greater variability in the rhythm. Hence, it is unlikely that the symptoms of CFS are because of disturbance in the circadian rhythm of CBT.



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