The title of this metabolomic study “Evidence for Peroxisomal Dysfunction and Dysregulation of the CDP-Choline Pathway in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome” made it clear that something new was in the works. Peroxisomal dysfunction had hardly popped up at all in the mitochondrial and metabolomic studies done to date – and yet it was headlining the outcome of a big, meaty NIH-funded study.
The study with the strange title came out of Ian Lipkin’s Center for Solutions for ME/CFS and featured a metabolomic analysis of 888 metabolic analytes in 106 ME/CFS cases and 91 frequency-matched healthy controls.
Metabolism involves reactions that break down compounds (catabolic) and reactions that build them up (anabolic).
Metabolomics studies assess the levels of metabolites. A metabolite is the end product of metabolism which refers to the sum total of chemical reactions that keep us alive. We break down molecules (catabolic) or build up (anabolic) compounds to keep the energy flowing, the organs operating correctly, the body repair processes working, etc. Since we know the metabolic pathways in detail, we can use altered levels of metabolites to determine where breakdowns are occurring. Since energy – either the use of it or creation of it – plays a key role in metabolism, metabolomic studies are particularly good at ferreting out problems that occur when energy production is lacking.