Scientists at Ohio State University have developed a bloodspot-based test that may useful for diagnosing fibromyalgia. This is the second study published in the past six months to investigate a potential diagnostic blood test for fibromyalgia.
The earlier study, published in December 2012, measured cytokine levels and was able to distinguish FM patients from healthy controls. This latest study used spectral and metabolomic analysis and was able to distinguish patients who had FM from those with osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
Study Design and Results
Blood samples were collected from 14 fibromyalgia patients, 15 rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and 12 osteoarthritis (OA) patients. Samples were prepared, placed onto a highly reflective slide, and spectra were collected using mid-infrared microspectroscopy (IRMS). Each blood sample was also subjected to metabolomic analysis.
The researchers found:
IRMS was able to accurately identify all of the FM, RA and OA patients based on spectral information with no misclassifications.
Metabolomic analysis revealed that the RA and OA groups were metabolically similar, however, the FM group had biochemical differences that were quite distinctive from those found in the other two groups.
- Both methods of analysis identified changes in tryptophan catabolism pathway that differentiated patients with FM from those with RA or OA.
For as long as fibromyalgia has been around, patients have been subjected to skepticism and sometimes even ridicule from some in the medical community who refuse to believe it is real because it cannot be seen in a blood test or x-ray. Despite the fact that hundreds of studies have identified very real biological abnormalities in those with FM, until there is a clear diagnostic biomarker, some medical professionals will remain steadfast disbelievers.
That is one of the reasons I think it's exciting to see that we finally have technology that is able to separate FM from at least some of the other diseases that have similar symptoms. I'm not quite ready to jump on board and say that either of the two blood tests recently reported are absolutely accurate diagnostic tests. Both need to be proven with additional studies that use larger numbers of patients and need to be tested against not only healthy controls, RA and OA patients, but also against the many other illnesses that present with symptoms similar to FM.
In the 20+ years I've been studying and living with fibromyalgia, this is the closest we've come to actually having a blood test that can be used to diagnose FM. Hopefully one or both of these tests will prove to be exactly that. Maybe that diagnostic blood test we've waited on for so long really is just around the corner.
Hackshaw KV, et al. A bloodspot-based diagnostic test for fibromyalgia syndrome and related disorders. Anxiety. 2013 Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print]
- IRMS was able to accurately identify all of the FM, RA and OA patients based on spectral information with no misclassifications.
Published On: May 27, 2013