The symptom of fatigue is prevalent among patients with chronic diseases and conditions such as congestive heart failure and cancer. It has a significant debilitating impact on patients’ physical health, quality of life, and well-being. Early detection and appropriate assessment of fatigue is essential for diagnosing, treating, and monitoring disease progression. However, it is often challenging to manage the symptom of fatigue without first investigating the underlying biological mechanisms. In this narrative review, we conceptualize the symptom of fatigue and its relationship with mitochondrial bioenergetics using the National Institute of Health Symptom Science Model (NIH-SSM). In particular, we discuss mental and physical measures to assess fatigue, the importance of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in cellular and organ functions, and how impaired ATP production contributes to fatigue. Specific methods to measure ATP are described. Recommendations are provided concerning how to integrate biological mechanisms with the symptom of fatigue for future research and clinical practice to help alleviate symptoms and improve patients’ quality of life.
Keywords: Adenosine triphosphate, fatigue, PROMIS, symptom science