Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating condition that has no known aetiology or pathophysiology. Recent investigations by other workers have suggested that individuals with CFS may have a hypercoagulable state. This study investigated various aspects of platelet activation and function in 17 patients with CFS and in 16 age-matched and sex-matched healthy controls. Platelet aggregation, platelet volume and coagulation tests were performed. Platelet aggregation was investigated by means of the photometric changes using citrated platelet-rich plasma, whole blood aggregation was calculated as the percentage fall in single platelet counts and the coagulation tests were performed on an automatic microcentrifugal analyser.
A trend was observed for the patients to have lower aggregation results and a reduced mean platelet volume. However, this only reached statistical significance for one result; the rate of the aggregation slope by 1.0 μg/ml collagen [CFS patients, 18 (9–28) versus controls, 32.5 (19–36); Mann–Whitney U test, P = 0.029]. No significant differences were found for any of the measurements of coagulation.
These results are in contrast to previously reported findings. However, due to the heterogeneous nature of the disease, and the resulting lifestyles of the patients, caution should be taken when comparing one group of patients with another. Nevertheless, we certainly found no evidence of increased platelet activation or of a hypercoagulable state in patients with CFS and, on the basis of these results, anti-platelet or anti-coagulant therapy is not warranted.