Grey and white matter differences in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A voxel-based morphometry study

Andreas Finkelmeyer, Jiabao He, Laura Maclachlan, Stuart Watson, Peter Gallagher, Julia L. Newton, Andrew M. Blamire

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Investigate global and regional grey and white matter volumes in patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and recent voxel-based morphometry (VBM) methods.

Forty-two patients with CFS and thirty healthy volunteers were scanned on a 3-Tesla MRI scanner. Anatomical MRI scans were segmented, normalized and submitted to a VBM analysis using randomisation methods. Group differences were identified in overall segment volumes and voxel-wise in spatially normalized grey matter (GM) and white matter (WM) segments.

Accounting for total intracranial volume, patients had larger GM volume and lower WM volume. The voxel-wise analysis showed increased GM volume in several structures including the amygdala and insula in the patient group. Reductions in WM volume in the patient group were seen primarily in the midbrain, pons and right temporal lobe.

Elevated GM volume in CFS is seen in areas related to processing of interoceptive signals and stress. Reduced WM volume in the patient group partially supports earlier findings of WM abnormalities in regions of the midbrain and brainstem.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-30
Number of pages7
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Early online date28 Sept 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Conflicts of interest and source of funding
The authors declare no conflicts of interest. This research was funded by the Medical Research Council (MR/J002712/1). AF is supported by Research Capability Funding from the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.


  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Voxel-based morphometry
  • Insula
  • Amygdala
  • Midbrain


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