Researchers have identified immune changes in patients diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.
The findings could help improve diagnosis and identify treatment for symptoms ranging from extreme fatigue and difficulty concentrating to headaches and muscle pain.
These immune signatures represent the first robust physical evidence that chronic fatigue syndrome is a biological illness as opposed to a psychological disorder, and the first evidence that the disease has distinct stages.
Results of the study are published in the journal Science Advances, from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“We now have evidence confirming what millions of people with this disease already know, that ME/CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) isn’t psychological,” says lead author Mady Hornig, director of translational research at the Centre for Infection and Immunity and associate professor of Epidemiology at Columbia’s Mailman School.
“Our results should accelerate the process of establishing the diagnosis after individuals first fall ill as well as discovery of new treatment strategies focusing on these early blood markers.”
The study supports the idea that chronic fatigue syndrome may reflect an infectious hit-and-run event. People often report getting sick from an infection and never fully recovering.
The latest research suggests these infections throw a wrench in the immune system’s ability to quiet itself after the acute infection. The immune response becomes like a car stuck in high gear.
The question researchers are now trying to address is what triggers this.
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