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news of current publications and research efforts underway related to chronic
fatigue syndrome (CFS) — also called chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction
Fibromyalgia patients show
Fibromyalgia (FM) and
CFS exhibit significant overlap in female patients. Research now shows that both
disorders may be marked by abnormalities in how the brain perceives
FM researchers have applied a high-speed
imaging technique called functional MRI to track the brain’s response to
stimuli. While applying pressure to the thumbs of test subjects, researchers
recorded brain function in 16 FM patients and 16 controls. The results showed
marked differences in cerebral responses. FM patients reported pain at one-half
the pressure level of control subjects; mild pressure resulted in much greater
blood flow to pain-related centers of their brains.
Researchers say the test provides the
documentation of the differential response to pain in FM patients compared to
the general population. For more on brain responses to pain in CFS, please see
et al. “Functional
magnetic resonance imaging evidence of augmented pain processing in
fibromyalgia.” Arthritis & Rheumatism. 2002;
linked to oxygen shortage
oxygenation and CFS may be linked in a subset of young CFS patients, researchers
report in the Journal of Pediatrics.
In the study, 16 CFS patients (ages
with orthostatic intolerance (OI) were measured for oxygenated and deoxygenated
hemoglobin levels in the brain while standing and seated. Results showed that 15
of the 16 failed to show a rapid recovery in oxygenated hemoglobin shortly after
standing. The same reaction was found in just six of 12 CFS patients without OI
and only two of 20 healthy control subjects.
In addition, 13 of the 16 CFS patients
showed prolonged reductions in oxygenated hemoglobin levels while continuing to
stand. The authors say these results suggest a link between levels of
cerebral oxygenation and CFS, although they do not explain CFS symptoms in
patients without OI.
Tanaka H et
al. “Impaired postural
hemodynamics in young patients with chronic fatigue with and without chronic
fatigue.” J Pediat. April 2002; 140(4):412-417.
HHV-6 infection causes immune imbalance
CFS patients with a
persistent, active Human Herpesvirus-6 (HHV-6) infection appear to show
imbalanced, fluctuating immune responses and not outright immune deficiency,
according to a study published in In Vivo.
Researchers tracked immune system status
10 patients who met the 1994 International Case Definition for CFS (see back
cover) and had persistent HHV-6 infection, for a period of
24 months. Changes in HHV-6 antibody
viral DNA load, peripheral blood T lymphocytes, CD4/CD8 cell ratios and other
factors were measured.
HHV-6 presence, as measured by viral
copies, was variable and slightly elevated during the study period. Peripheral T
lymphocytes ranged from normal to twice normal, while the CD4/CD8 ratio varied
from 0.7-3.8 with considerable fluctuation. This ratio is typically high in CFS
patients, and is indicative of immune system activation.
While the lymphocyte counts fluctuated,
authors note that they returned to normal limits at points during the study
period. This stands in contrast to the immune response to HIV infection, which
begins with variable lymphocyte levels but eventually results in complete immune
Results of this small trial requires
confirmation through larger tests, the authors note.
Krueger G et
al. “Dynamics of
chronic active herpesvirus-6 infection in patients with chronic fatigue
syndrome: data acquisition for computer modeling.” In Vivo. 2001;