We studied whether muscle fatigue, metabolism, or activation are abnormal in the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Subjects performed both an intermittent submaximal and a sustained maximal voluntary isometric exercise protocol of the tibialis anterior muscle. The extent of fatigue, metabolic response, and changes in both M-wave amplitude and twitch tension during exercise were similar in patients and controls. The response to systemic exercise was also normal in the patients. However, voluntary activation of the tibialis was significantly lower in the patients during maximal sustained exercise. The results indicate that patients with CFS have (1) normal fatigability and metabolism at both the intracellular and systemic levels, (2) normal muscle membrane function and excitation-contraction coupling, and (3) an inability to fully activate skeletal muscle during intense, sustained exercise. This failure of activation was well in excess of that found in controls, suggesting an important central component of muscle fatigue in CFS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology