Chronic Fatigue Syndrome News

Browse our library of news below or learn more about chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) symptoms, diagnosis and causes.

What Causes Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?: Immune Activation But No Viruses, Study Finds

White Blood Cells (Leukocytes)Recent research has found that there are specific patterns in 51 immune biomarkers in patients with ME, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome, or simply ME/CFS. Following what may likely turn out to be a 'game changing' study, scientists are already predicting a blood test and possible treatments for the disabling condition may now not be far away.

The large study carried out at Columbia University by a team including leading chronic fatigue syndrome researcher Professor Ian Lipkin provides ‘the first robust physical evidence’ that ME/CFS is a biological illness rather than a psychological disorder.

Prof. Lipkin said of the research: “This study delivers what has eluded us for so long: unequivocal evidence of immunological dysfunction in ME/CFS and diagnostic biomarkers for disease.”

The results are the first to come out of a larger study, the biggest in ME/CFS research history in fact with the involvement of the biggest names in the field involved. Prof. Lipkin and colleague Dr. Mady Hornig were actually hard at work seeking any possible pathogen: viral, bacterial, fungal or parasitic, to see if a chronic infection could explain ME/CFS. Instead, they found what amounts to an 'immune system fingerprint' seen only in chronic fatigue syndrome patients.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Infectious and Environmental Factors Trigger Autonomic Dysfunction

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Infectious and Environmental Factors Trigger Autonomic Dysfunction​New research from Australia adds to a substantial body of evidence indicating autonomic nervous system imbalance plays a central role in causing the wide-ranging symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

In the journal PLOS ONE investigators show for the first time that reduced heart rate variability (HRV) – or changes in heart beat timing – best predicts cognitive disturbances, including imparied concentration, mental focus and short-term memory commonly reported by people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for maintaining balance and normal function within the body through interactions with other key systems such as the endocrine system and immune system. The hypothalamus in the brain is a key component of the ANS and can be looked upon as the conductor of the bodily orchestra - if the hypothalamus is giving incorrect instructions, dysfunction throughout the ANS, endcrine system, immune system and other bodily systems ensues. It has been thought for some time now that this is what is going on in CFS. Abnormal hormone levels, particularly low levels of the adrenal stress hormone cortisol, have long been seen in CFS patients and are a logical consequence of ANS dysfunction. 

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Environmental triggers for altered gene function in chronic fatigue syndrome to be examined

Strand Of DNA​A Canadian researcher is investigating how environmental triggers might alter gene function in people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. The research could lead to better insights into the disease and eventually to new treatments.

Professor Patrick O. McGowan, director of the Laboratory for Epigenetic Neuroscience at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC), is looking at how environmentally triggered changes to gene expression might alter immune function and stress response in ways that contribute to the disease.

McGowan's field of study is epigenetics - a scientific field that has only come to the fore relatively recently. Epigenetics tells us that that DNA blueprints passed down through genes are not set in stone at birth. While we can’t change the hardwiring of our genetic code, outside influences can radically change what our genes do and thus how our body functions and whether it is healthy or not. Epigenetic changes can be caused by environmental triggers such as infections, toxins, stress, nutrition, and even the social environment. - all of which have been associated with the onset of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) e.g. viral infections, pesticide exposure, pushing oneself too hard etc.

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Giardia gut parasite may lead to chronic fatigue syndrome

Giardia ParasiteA new study from Norway suggests that infection with the gut parasite Giardia lamblia is associated with a significantly increased risk of developing chronic fatigue syndrome.

Giardia lamblia is a parasitic microorganism which can be transmitted via water contaminated with infected human, animal or bird faeces, as well as by consuming contaminated food or contact with contaminated surfaces. The parasite causes intestinal infection known as Giardiasis which is common worldwide. Giardiasis, or Giardia enteritis, usually lasts a few weeks, but in some individuals may enter a prolonged phase.

Researchers focused on a population in Bergen, Norway, that had been hit by an outbreak of Giardia enteritis in 2004 after contamination of the municipal water supply. The outbreak involved a total of 1,262 people (764 female and 498 male) with the infection confirmed by laboratory testing. The scientists noted what appeared to be a much higher than average incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) among the victims of the Giardiasis outbreak so decided to investigate further.

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Rituximab trial in chronic fatigue syndrome points to autoimmune component

Rituximab IV Vial​A new study has found that chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) patients treated with the anti-cancer drug Rituximab experienced significant relief from their symptoms. Based on the drug's mode of action this suggests immune system dysfunction, and possibly autoimmunity, are important in this debilitating illness.

Rituximab is tradtitionally used as a chemotherapy drug in the treatment of certain cancers. One of its actions is to deplete the number of B-lymphocytes in the body. Also known simply as B-cells, these white blood cells produced by the immune system are associated with allergies and some autoimmune diseases.

Norwegian researchers first noticed the beneficial effects of Rituximab when using the drug to treat a patient with Hodgkin's lymphoma, who also suffered from ME/CFS. While undergoing chemotherapy with Rituximab the patient reported siognificant relief from their chronic fatigue syndrome symptoms. The investigators reasoned that the effect could be mediated through B-lymphocyte depletion and decided to investigate further, culminating in a recent double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the results of which are published in the journal PLoS ONE.

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