Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Hypothesis Proposed For Cause Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Date:
November 3, 1998
Source:
Ohio State University
Summary:
Researchers have proposed a new theory for the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) -- one that blames the illness both on a low-level viral infection and on the body’s own immune response to that virus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Researchers here have proposed a new theory for the cause of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) -- one that blames the illness both on a low-level viral infection and on the body’s own immune response to that virus.

If true, it would offer an explanation for why virologists so far haven’t found evidence of a common virus when looking at a population of CFS patients. The hypothesis was included in a paper published in the current issue of the American Journal of Medicine.

The new theory, proposed by Ronald Glaser, professor of medical microbiology and immunology, and Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Ohio State University, is the latest work in more than two decades of their research on the effects of stress on the human immune system.

“Our data suggests that stress may be causing the expression of certain viral proteins and that these proteins may be modulating the body’s immune response, turning it on or off,”Glaser said.

CFS was first characterized by researchers in the mid-1980s who described it as a combination of symptoms including low-grade fevers, body aches, malaise, and depression among other signs. The condition seems more prevalent among young adult women. Those diagnosed with CFS often experience stress and depression.

Symptoms routinely linger for six months or more and may continue for years. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that CFS may affect anywhere from four to 10 of every 100,000 people in the United States.

Other researchers have reported higher-than-normal titers of antibodies to various latent viruses -- Epstein-Barr virus, cytomegalovirus, human herpes virus 6, for example -- in the blood of patients diagnosed as having CFS. But no one viral infection was present in all patients -- evidence that would be needed to prove a viral cause of the illness.

The Ohio State researchers’ new theory poses several mechanisms that might be linked to CFS.

Once a person is infected, these viruses can remain latent in the body for long periods of time. Glaser proposes that the viruses could be partially reactivated, that is, viral proteins could be produced at levels high enough to cause a low-grade infection but too low to be seen using current laboratory assays.

Glaser and Kiecolt-Glaser suggest that CFS patients may experience an ongoing, low-grade viral infection -- more like a smoldering fire rather than a three-alarm blaze -- which could stimulate parts of the immune response without raising antibody titers to typically high levels.

That low-grade infection would be enough to increase production of various cytokines -- chemical mediators for the immune system -- and begin the immune response.

“A lot of the symptoms that you find in chronic fatigue syndrome are the same ones induced by cytokines during our normal immune response,” Glaser said.

He admits that studies of patients have yet to show a pattern of abnormal cytokine behavior that would substantiate their theory but he has an explanation for that.

“We haven’t discovered all the cytokines involved in immunity. We may not have found the right one, yet,” he said, adding that new cytokines are steadily being identified.

Stress and depression may be playing a related role as well, Kiecolt-Glaser said. Earlier research has repeatedly shown that increased stress and depression can reactivate latent viruses, decrease the body’s immune response, and stimulate the production of certain cytokines linked to some CFS-like symptoms.

“Part of this is a chicken-and-egg problem,” Kiecolt-Glaser said. “People diagnosed with CFS often are depressed since they’re unable to carry out normal, daily activities. What we don’t know is whether the depression followed the diagnosis of CFS or if CFS contributed to it.

“We do know, however, that this kind of depression can weaken our immune response.”

Glaser said researchers need to reconsider past work on CFS.

“We need to look for immune system changes that are much more subtle and specific than those we’ve been using as benchmarks,” he said.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Ohio State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Ohio State University. "New Hypothesis Proposed For Cause Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031180910.htm>.
Ohio State University. (1998, November 3). New Hypothesis Proposed For Cause Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031180910.htm
Ohio State University. "New Hypothesis Proposed For Cause Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/10/981031180910.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Who Could Be Burnt by WHO's E-Cigs Move?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 28, 2014) The World Health Organisation has called for the regulation of electronic cigarettes as both tobacco and medical products. Ciara Lee looks at the impact of the move on the tobacco industry. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

CDC Director On Ebola Outbreak: 'It's Worse Than I Feared'

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) CDC director Tom Frieden says the Ebola outbreak is even worse than he feared. But he also said there's still hope to contain it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How A 'Rule Of Thumb' Could Slow Down Drinking

How A 'Rule Of Thumb' Could Slow Down Drinking

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) A study suggests people who follow a "rule of thumb" when pouring wine dispense less than those who don't have a particular amount in mind. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins