On this #OMFScienceWednesday, we look at why it is interesting to study gene expression in ME/CFS by measuring RNA in patient samples. Genes – made up of DNA – are expressed as RNA to accomplish their functions in the cell, often by being translated into proteins. The amount of RNA expressed from each gene is regulated by our cells according to information in the DNA, stressors like disease, and the type of cell (e.g., brain vs. muscle cells). Measuring the amount of RNA that is expressed in e.g., blood samples, can tell us about differences in biological functions being performed between ME/CFS patients and healthy individuals. It can tell us what functions might not be working well, what functions might be activated to deal with the disease, what diseases have similar gene regulation, or how patients are responding to different therapies. For example, some studies have shown that ME/CFS gene expression profiles look like other diseases involving inflammation or infection.
This is why OMF is funding projects that look at gene expression in ME/CFS, including the Severely Ill Big Data Study and ongoing work at the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Research Center at Stanford University.
Learn more about gene expression and disease here: