Neuroimmune Imaging Studies
There is ample evidence that low grade inflammation is present in ME/CFS patients at all times when the disease is active and this inflammation might be very significant during periods of flares. This peripheral inflammation can either be spread directly to the central nervous system (CNS) via porous portions of the blood brain barrier or it might be detected by the vagus nerve afferent system and transmitted to the CNS indirectly. Either way, it is easy to understand the possibility that a CNS form of neuroinflammation is also likely present in ME/CFS in the form of activated microglial cells, which are the macrophages in the CNS.
Two neuro-imaging studies, headed by Dr. Michael VanElzakker, are currently ongoing at the The Athinoula A. Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. One study examines the neural basis of PEM using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). and the second study investigates the link between neuro-inflammation and in both ME/CFS and PTLD using a dual magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography (MR-PET) instrumentation. Both of these projects are currently funded by private donations.