Background: There is now evidence that major depression and myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are accompanied by partially overlapping pathophysiological mechanisms, i.e. activation of various inflammatory and oxidative & nitrosative (IO&NS) pathways.

Objective: The aim of the present study was to examine the urinary excretion of 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (8-OhdG), a marker of oxidative damage to DNA, in depression; ME/CFS; and depression and ME/CFS.

Methods: Toward this end, morning urine was sampled for the assays of 8-OHdG and creatinine, in 44 patients with ME/CFS; 25 with major depression; 23 with depression and ME/CFS; and 17 normal controls. Severity of fatigue and somatic symptoms was measured by means of the Fibromyalgia and CFS Rating (FF) scale.

Results: We found that 49.0% of the variance in the urinary excretion of 8-OHdG was predicted by the regression on creatinine. Consequently, the urinary 8-OHdG excretion should be expressed as the residualized 8-OHdG values after partialling out the effects of creatinine and not by computing the 8-OHdG / creatinine ratio. We found that the residualized urinary excretion of 8-OHdG (adjusted for creatinine) was significantly higher in patients with depression and ME/CFS than in normal controls and all other patients. In the patient group, there were significant correlations between the urinary 8-OHdG and the total score on the FF scale and sadness and flu-like malaise.

Conclusions: The findings show increased oxidatively generated DNA damage in patients with major depression and ME/CFS and, therefore, further extent the role played by IO&NS pathways in the pathophysiology of both disorders. Since oxidatively damage to DNA is a risk factor for atherosclerosis and neurodegeneration, our results also explain previous findings on increased cardiovascular morbidity in depression and ME/CFS, and neurodegenerative processes in depression.


Maes M, Mihaylova I, Kubera M, Uytterhoeven M, Vrydags N, Bosmans E. Increased 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine, a marker of oxidative damage to DNA, in major depression and myalgic encephalomyelitis / chronic fatigue syndrome. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2009;30(6):715-22. PMID: 20035260.