1Department of General Internal Medicine, Division of Psychosomatic Medicine, University Hospital/ Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland. 2Department of Neuroradiology, University Hospital/Inselspital, Bern, Switzerland.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by disabling fatigue of unknown etiology. The thalamus is a key subcortical structure in sleep disorders and certain cognitive functions previously shown to be impaired in CFS patients. We investigated the association between subjective sleep quality and thalamic size in CFS. Twelve right-handed CFS patients and 12 age-, gender-, and handedness-matched healthy controls completed the Jenkins Sleep Questionnaire in order to assess subjective sleep problems. Thalamic size was determined by MR-based volumetry. More sleep problems correlated with greater total thalamic volume in patients (rp = 0.62, 95% CI 0.07–0.88, p = 0.032) but not in con- trols (rp = −0.034, p = 0.30). In post hoc analysis, more sleep problems correlated with right thalamic size in patients (rp = 0.70, 95% CI 0.21−0.91, p = 0.012) but not in controls (rp = −0.080, p = 0.81). Our preliminary results provide a basis for further studies on a possible role of the thalamus in sleep complaints and fatigue of patients with CFS.
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