PLoS One. 2022 Sep 23;17(9):e0274026. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274026. eCollection 2022.
Fibromyalgia-syndrome (FMS) is a complex disease characterized by chronic widespread pain and additional symptoms including depression, cognitive dysfunction (“fibro-fog”) and maldigestion. Our research team examined whether FMS-related pain parameters assessed by quantitative sensory testing (QST) and psychological disturbances are accompanied by alterations of the fecal microbiome. We recruited 25 patients with FMS and 26 age- and sex-matched healthy controls. Medical background, food habits, psychopathology and quality of life were assessed through questionnaires. Stool samples were analyzed by 16S rRNA gene amplification and sequencing. QST was performed according to the protocol of the German Network for Neuropathic Pain. QST showed that both lemniscal and spinothalamic afferent pathways are altered in FMS patients relative to healthy controls and that peripheral as well as central pain sensitization processes are manifest. Psychometric assessment revealed enhanced scores of depression, anxiety and stress. In contrast, neither the composition nor the alpha- and beta-diversity of the fecal microbiome was changed in FMS patients. FMS patients segregate from healthy controls in various parameters of QST and psychopathology, but not in terms of composition and diversity of the fecal microbiome. Despite consideration of several confounding factors, we conclude that the contribution of the gut microbiome to the pathophysiology of FMS is limited.