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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: New Evidence Of Biological Causes

Thursday 20 December 2018

 

From The Conversation:

 

Flea
Flea, the bass player with the Red Hot Chili Peppers,
suffered from chronic fatigue syndrome.
 

Chronic fatigue syndrome: new evidence of biological causes

By Alice Russell and Carmine Pariante
December 18, 2018
Copyright © 2010–2018, The Conversation Media Group Ltd.

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) affects up to 24m people globally, but little is known about its causes. Our latest study unravels some of this mystery. The results suggest that an overactive immune system may trigger this long-term condition.

People with chronic fatigue syndrome, also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), experience severe mental and physical tiredness that isn’t alleviated by rest. Some people also experience flu-like symptoms, cognitive impairment and sleep disturbances.

The symptoms overlap with those experienced in immune system disorders, and some infections are known to precede the condition. But measurements of immune function in these patients have proven inconsistent, with some finding evidence of immune activation, while others find none. As a result, the role of the immune system is still unclear. One reason for this may be that we are measuring immune activation too late when the patient is already unwell and visiting the doctor for the first time.

Infections are random events, which makes it difficult to study what happens in response to the infection that leads to CFS (anecdotal evidence suggests many patients recall that their condition started after a viral infection, and studies of post-infective fatigue syndrome support this. This means we are left with the unanswered question: why is it that some people with common infections go on to develop CFS?

Triggering an immune response

For our study, published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, we examined 55 patients with hepatitis C who were being treated with interferon-alpha, a drug that triggers a powerful immune response in order to combat the hepatitis C virus. While interferon-alpha is successful at fighting the virus, it can induce a wide range of debilitating side effects, including fatigue, making people receiving this treatment a suitable group to study to learn more about what might cause CFS.

 

Full article…

 


 

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