People with fibromyalgia (FM) have different amounts of certain types of intestinal bacteria than those without the disease, as revealed by a new study in the journal PAIN. It's the first time that differences in gut microbiota have been linked to the disease, and researchers say that their work could lead to better diagnostic tools and treatment options as much as 4 percent of the population. It is characterized by pain, physical exhaustion, sleep disturbances and cognitive symptoms that affect a person's overall quality of life. The cause and origin of the disease are largely unknown and difficult to diagnose. In some cases, this can take up to five years.
Researchers tested 77 women with FM and 79 controls in a variety of ways, including DNA extraction from stool samples.
"We found that fibromyalgia and the symptoms of fibromyalgia ̵
In general, those with and without FM had the same total population and diversity of bacteria in gut microbiota, but their levels differed. A total of 19 different bacterial species – including several that have been associated with intestinal disease, inflammatory arthritis and inflammatory reactions – found in the gastrointestinal tract of study participants with FM in more or less large quantities.
It is not clear whether the changes in a person's intestinal bacteria are or cause markers of the disease, but understanding the structure of the gut microbiome is an important step in understanding how the disease works.
"We used a number of techniques, including artificial intelligence, to confirm that the changes in the microbiomes of fibromyalgia patients were not caused by factors such as diet, medication, physical activity, age, etc., that are known that they affect the microbiome, "said Minerbi.
Machine Learning was then used to analyze the data and to accurately diagnose fibromyalgia in 87 percent of cases. So far there is no FM test, and the diagnosis is largely based on self-reported symptoms.
The researchers report that their next steps will be to determine if changes in gut microbiota affect chronic pain.