Research-backed Health News: Fibromyalgia patients may have unique gut microbiome composition

From Psychology Today

For the first time, scientists have identified a correlation between specific gut microbiome composition and a disease—fibromyalgia—which is characterized by widespread chronic pain, sleep impairment, and fatigue. These findings by a Montreal-based team of researchers, “Altered Microbiome Composition in Individuals with Fibromyalgia,” were published online ahead of print this month in the journal Pain.

The Canadian researchers also discovered that the severity of someone’s fibromyalgia symptoms were directly correlated with an increased presence of certain gut bacteria and a conspicuous absence of other gut microbiome species. According to the researchers, this is something that hasn’t been observed or reported until now. A side-by-side comparison revealed more than a dozen different species of gut bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of study participants with fibromyalgia in comparison to a healthy control group without the disease.

Nota bene: Identifying a correlation between fibromyalgia and specific gut microbiome species does not mean that these microbiota cause the disease. These initial findings are not causal, but instead, offer insights into a potential microbiome-based marker for the disease. As the news release clearly states:

“At this point, it’s not clear whether the changes in gut bacteria seen in patients with fibromyalgia are simply markers of the disease or whether they play a role in causing it.”

Future research will drill down on whether specific gut microbiome plays a causal role in the development of various symptoms (e.g., chronic pain) associated with fibromyalgia.

These findings could lead to a breakthrough in diagnosing fibromyalgia. Because it can take as long as four to five years for someone with fibromyalgia to receive a final diagnosis, if scientists can pinpoint a specific assemblage of gut microbiome that is universally correlated with fibromyalgia, it could lead to a speedier method of identifying this debilitating disease.

The interdisciplinary team of scientists involved in this study has affiliations with McGill University, Université de Montréal, and the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC).

Read the full article here at Psychology Today.


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