Genetics Factors in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

The search for answers about the genetic roots of CFS/ME/SEID has been making progress, revealing possible genetic elements that might make people more susceptible to this condition. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at how genetics and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are connected, examining the current state of research and what it means for those who are impacted by it.

Understanding the Role of Genetics in CFS

The role of genetics in CFS is a fascinating field of study that has gradually unfolded over the years. It’s becoming increasingly clear that genetics play a significant part in determining who develops CFS.

Research shows that CFS can run in families, suggesting a hereditary component to the disease. Genes influence various bodily functions, including how our bodies respond to stress, infection, and environmental factors—all of which are relevant in the context of CFS. Thus, understanding the genetic makeup of individuals with CFS can provide insights into why some people are more susceptible to developing the condition.

Genetic Predisposition and CFS/ME/SEID

How Genetic Predisposition Influences CFS

Genetic predisposition doesn’t guarantee that someone will develop the condition, but it means their genetic makeup makes them more susceptible to it. When people with a genetic predisposition to CFS encounter certain environmental triggers—such as viral infections, stress, or trauma—their risk of developing the condition may increase significantly.

Scientists have discovered numerous genes that may play a role in ME/CFS/SEID. Research has shown alterations in genes associated with various aspects, such as the blood-brain barrier, which acts as a protective shield preventing harmful substances from entering the brain. Additionally, genes involved in neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to learn and form new connections, have been identified. Other genes linked to immune system activation, regulation, metabolic function, hormone activity, glutamate receptors, sensitivity to glucocorticoids, stress-response system regulation, enzymes affecting DNA expression, and the functioning of  T cells have also been found. So far around 200 genes have been identified to be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome.

woman doing research while holding equipmentImage courtesy: Unsplash

Latest research findings on genetics and CFS

Recent studies have started to uncover specific genetic markers that could be linked to the susceptibility of developing CFS. Notably, research has indicated a potential genetic predisposition, where certain genes responsible for immune system function and energy metabolism may differ in individuals with CFS compared to those without the condition. For example, variations in genes related to the body’s response to infection and stress have been identified, suggesting that people with these genetic variations might be more likely to develop CFS following viral infections or significant stress events.

Additionally, studies have focused on the role of mitochondrial DNA – the powerhouse of the cell. They propose that changes in mitochondrial function, possibly influenced by genetic factors, could lead to the energy production issues central to CFS symptoms. These findings are groundbreaking, providing a much-needed direction that could explain the complex symptomatology observed in CFS patients.

Overview of DNA tests for CFS/ME/SEID

At a genetic level, ME/CFS/SEID is characterized by being polygenic and heterogeneous. This means that there are multiple genes involved and a wide variation in genetic makeup among individuals with this condition. By analyzing these genes and identifying specific genetic variations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), researchers have found direct links to various cellular mechanisms that are believed to contribute to ME/CFS/SEID. These mechanisms include susceptibility to stress and infection, mitochondrial dysfunction, sleep disturbances, autoimmune development, metabolic processes like insulin sensitivity and lipid metabolism, and vulnerability to psychological stress.

Some genes involved in this condition:

  • The COMT gene is responsible for producing an enzyme that helps in the breakdown of catecholamines, which are a group of neurotransmitters that include dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine.
    The sympathetic nervous system releases catecholamines, which can contribute to different stress-related disorders due to their excess levels. Studies have shown that individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome often have increased sympathetic activity and higher levels of catecholamines.
  • CNR1 gene determine how well our cannabinoid receptors work. Abnormal activity of the cannabinoid receptor can cause a wide range of symptoms because this system has so many different roles in the body. These symptoms may include heightened inflammation, fatigue, heightened stress levels, difficulties in learning and memory, and even mood-related issues.
  • The PARP1 enzyme role is to bind to the damaged DNA, essentially labeling it for the assistance of other natural repair mechanisms in repairing the damage. However, it’s important to note that this activation of PARP1 also initiates your body’s inflammatory response.
    The impact of oxidative stress and inflammation on your brain is significant, leading to cognitive issues like “brain fog”. The PARP1 gene plays a crucial role in determining your sensitivity to these factors.
  • APOE is responsible for aiding in the removal of cholesterol and triglycerides from the bloodstream. Different forms of APOE could potentially impact an individual’s blood pressure levels
    A recent discovery reveals that ApoE has an impact on mitochondrial function and its proteins. It is suggested that ApoE4 specifically supresses mitochondrial function.
  • NFKB1 The protein produced by this gene acts as a regulator for transcription. It gets activated by different triggers such as cytokines, oxidant-free radicals, ultraviolet radiation, and products from bacteria or viruses. When NFKB is activated in an improper manner, it has been linked to several inflammatory diseases.
  • EFCAB4B, MORN2, and LINC01171 involving calcium ion channels, cell differentiation, and long non-coding RNA transcript, and others.

Know Your Gene Predispositions

If you’re interested in understanding your own genetic predisposition to ME/CFS/SEID, you can consider taking a DNA test and opt to one of the Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Companies. While there is some number of these companies, particular company is accessible globally, and provides a wealth of information in its reports. So how it all works and what you can get?


SelfDecode offers DNA Health Reports that provide information about the genes you possess that are associated with specific conditions and symptoms. For example, if you want to explore the gene interactions related to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), you can refer to your report and find all the associated genes and their corresponding SNPs. You can access detailed information about any gene and the detected SNPs at any time.

The procedure is simple and goes as follows:

  • Order a DNA kit with instructions and send it back for analysis, or upload your existing genetic data file for evaluation
  • SelfDecode uses cutting-edge A.I./machine learning to “fill in the blanks.” First, they take these 500 thousand variants and convert them into 83 million.
  • Then they figure out which of these variants affect your health.
  • Next, they translate this into a genetic risk score that tells you how your genetic risk compares to others.
  • All this information is in our Health Reports.

In SelfDecode, you access:
1000+ DNA Health & Trait Reports
Genotype results for 83 million SNPs
Lab Analyzer, tracker & recommendations
Lifestyle risk analyzer
Personalized supplement formula
Comprehensive diet, nutrition & fitness reports
Precision health regimen builder

You have the option to either order a DNA kit with instructions and send it back for analysis, or upload your existing genetic data file for evaluation. For more details and information, you can visit the SelfDecode website. With SelfDecode’s cutting-edge technology and comprehensive approach to genetic analysis, you can gain valuable insights into your genetic health and make informed decisions about your well-being.


Based on the research so far, it is obvious that genetics do play a significant role in this CFS/ME/SEID.

Current research has shed light on the complexity of this condition, pointing to specific genetic mutations that may predispose individuals to this chronic disease.

DNA tests can give you more insight into your condition, and provide personalized treatment and health recommendations.

  • You can ask health care facilities or genetic counselors at medical centers and clinics if they provide testing for chronic fatigue syndrome.
  • Another option is verified genetic testing laboratories, some of which offer individual gene or whole genome testing

In any case, we hope that scientific research is getting closer to discovering the cause and cure for this condition that affects millions of people now.


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Information on this blog is intended solely for informational purposes and may not be used as a substitute for professional advice and/or information.

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