HealthDay News — Chronic fatigue syndrome appears to be linked to specific changes in a person’s immune system, particularly increased amounts of chemical messengers that regulate immune responses, according to research published in Science Advances.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is an unexplained illness that may affect up to 4 million patients in the United States. No validated laboratory tests for diagnosis or management despite global efforts to find biomarkers of disease, noted Mady Hornig, MD, director of Translational Research at the Jerome L. and Dawn Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at Columbia University, in New York City, and colleagues.
To access the relationship between of immune signatures with ME/CFS diagnosis, illness duration, and other clinical variables, the investigators culled data from two U.S. studies involving 298 patients diagnosed with CFS and 348 healthy control subjects. As part of these studies, participants provided blood samples. Researchers analyzed the blood sample data, looking at the presence of cells and chemicals related to the immune system.
Distinct increases occurred in the cytokine levels of patients who’d been diagnosed with CFS for fewer than three years, compared with both the healthy controls and people with long-term CFS, noted the researchers. The changes are only present early on in the course of disease, and don’t appear in long-term patients. The results indicate that there are stages of CFS, and that new patients likely need treatments different from those who have had CFS for a long time, according to the scientists.
“These findings have critical implications for discovery of interventional strategies and early diagnosis of ME/CFS,” concluded the researchers.