Scientists investigating what could trigger a complex disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have found clues to how some people's immune systems respond more actively to an attack on their health.
SFC, a serious illness characterized by long-term physical and mental fatigue, is believed to affect up to 17 million people worldwide. Often patients are confined to their beds, unable to perform basic daily activities such as washing and feeding.
The researchers used a drug known as interferon alfa to create a model of the syndrome and found that patients whose immune responses to treatment were overactive or overactive were more likely to develop severe fatigue.
"For the first time, we have shown that people who are prone to developing a CFS-like disease have a hyperactive immune system both before and during an immune system attack," said Alice Russell, Ph.D., of the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN). ), King's College London, who directed the work.
The condition, like research, is highly controversial, in part because its possible causes and range of debilitating symptoms are poorly understood.
Interferon alfa is used as a treatment for hepatitis C infection and activates the immune system in the same way as a potent infection. Many patients who receive the medication experience extreme fatigue in treatment, and others continue to feel this for many months after the end of treatment.
IoPPN professor Carmine Pariante emphasized that while the study's main finding is a useful addition to the limited scientific understanding of CFS, also known as myalgic encephalopathy, it offers few clues as to how to treat it, cure it or prevent it -over there.
"It's a light in the fog," the scientist told reporters. "But a better understanding of the biology underlying the development of CFS is needed to help patients." (I)