Myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a condition with unknown causation. In 2017, a group of researchers led by Jose Montoya did a study to determine if there is an immunologic component to the severity and duration of symptoms experienced by patients affected with this condition.
Myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, is a condition with unknown cause characterized as having persistent unexplained fatigue of at least six months which impairs activities of daily living.
In an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) Journal this 2017, a group of researchers led by Jose Montoya conducted a study to explore the association of different cytokines in the disease severity and duration of myalgic encephalomyelitis. Cytokines are cells secreted by the body’s immune system which can have different effects on other cells. Cytokines from 186 patients diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis and 388 healthy controls were gathered by collecting blood specimens and analyzed using a cytokine assay.
The study found that 17 different cytokines were more elevated in patients who were diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Of these 17 cytokines, 13 were found to be pro-inflammatory, which may contribute to the symptoms experienced by patients affected with myalgic encephalomyelitis. Transforming growth factor β, a protein which has a role in cell growth and proliferation was also found to be elevated in this group.
Overall, the findings of the study suggest that myalgic encephalomyelitis has a strong immunologic component. Further research addressing this component can be done to improve the clinical management and outcome of this condition.
Written by Karla Sevilla
Reference: Montoya, J., et al. (2017). Cytokine signature associated with disease severity in chronic fatigue syndrome. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1710519114