Pharmaceuticals | Free Full-Text | The Occurrence of Hyperactivated Platelets and Fibrinaloid Microclots in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

We have previously demonstrated that platelet-poor plasma (PPP) obtained from patients with Long COVID/Post-Acute Sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC) is characterized by a hypercoagulable state and contains hyperactivated platelets and considerable numbers of already-formed amyloid fibrin(ogen) or fibrinaloid microclots. Due to the substantial overlap in symptoms and etiology between Long COVID/PASC and ME/CFS, we investigated whether coagulopathies reflected in Long COVID/PASC—hypercoagulability, platelet hyperactivation, and fibrinaloid microclot formation—were present in individuals with ME/CFS and gender- and age-matched healthy controls. ME/CFS samples showed significant hypercoagulability as judged by thromboelastography of both whole blood and platelet-poor plasma. The area of plasma images containing fibrinaloid microclots was commonly more than 10-fold greater in untreated PPP from individuals with ME/CFS than in that of healthy controls. A similar difference was found when the plasma samples were treated with thrombin. Using fluorescently labelled PAC-1, which recognizes glycoprotein IIb/IIIa, and CD62P, which binds P-selectin, we observed hyperactivation of platelets in ME/CFS hematocrit samples. Using a quantitative scoring system, the ME/CFS platelets were found to have a mean spreading score of 2.72 ± 1.24 vs. 1.00 (activation with pseudopodia formation) for healthy controls. We conclude that ME/CFS is accompanied by substantial and measurable changes in coagulability, platelet hyperactivation, and fibrinaloid microclot formation. However, the fibrinaloid microclot load was not as great as was previously noted in Long COVID/PASC. Fibrinaloid microclots, in particular, may contribute to many ME/CFS symptoms, such as fatigue, seen in patients with ME/CFS, via the (temporary) blockage of microcapillaries and hence ischemia. Furthermore, fibrinaloid microclots might damage the endothelium. The discovery of these biomarkers represents an important development in ME/CFS research. It also points to possible uses for treatment strategies using known drugs and/or nutraceuticals that target systemic vascular pathology and endothelial inflammation.
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