More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Brain drives Chronic Fatigue symptoms
Mon, Sep 17 2007

New research from University of New South Wales, Australia (UNSW) has delivered a final blow to the theory that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is driven by the body's immune system and in particular by its production of cytokines.

Attention has now turned to the brain and neural-level reactions as the syndrome's likely source.

The research, led by Dr Ut? Vollmer-Conna at UNSW's School of Psychiatry, represents the latest findings in the Dubbo Infectious Outcomes Study and is the most comprehensive and definitive of its type.

The research team found that cytokines production in patients suffering from Post Infective Fatigue Syndrome (PIFS) up to a year after the acute viral infection was no different from those in control patients who had promptly recovered.

PIFS is a well-recognised empirically established illness model permitting prospective study of pathophysiological pathways to CFS.

The study results show that while raised production of cytokines is likely to be an initial trigger for CFS, it is not responsible for the ongoing symptoms. Cytokins are a group of proteins that orchestratee a host's immune response to infection.

Dr Vollmer-Conna says the most reliable predictor of chronic fatigue following from an acute infection is the severity of the initial viral illness.

"Our group has ruled out the ongoing symptoms being related to abnormal antibody responses, differences in viral load and now to cytokines," Dr Vollmer-Conna says.

"We are now focusing our attention on the brain because these findings suggest a change takes place at neural pathways in the central nervous system."

But Dr Vollmer-Conna emphasizes this is not the same as saying CFS is all in the mind. "Rather we believe that an immunological stressor, such as a severe acute infection with certain pathogens, promotes prolonged sensitization in neural systems involved in receiving and interpreting information about symptoms from the body.

"We are now investigating potential changes in the autonomic nervous system and central nervous system circuits that could explain ongoing symptoms in post-infective and chronic fatigue syndromes."

The Dubbo Infection Outcomes Study is 82 per cent funded by the US Centers for Disease Control and also receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia.

Source: Vollmer-Conna U, Cameron B, Hadzi-Pavlovic D, et al. Postinfective fatigue syndrome is not associated with altered cytokine production. Clin Infect Dis. 2007 Sep 15;45(6):732-5. [Abstract]
Replying is not possible. This forum is only available as an archive.