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 bodys own immune response to that virus.
If true, it would offer an explanation for why virologists so far havent 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 bodys immune response, turning it on or off,
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 v
Contact: Ronald Glaser
Ohio State University