"Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) - sometimes known as ME - can follow infection with certain viruses which causes glandular fever. One popular explanation is that ongoing viral infection or abnormal immune changes resulting from that infection are to blame for symptoms of CFS."
While my personal experience doesn't match up with all the details of this research (hard to blame body temperature disregulation and accelerated heart rate on "pain percecption"), this is very credible research into the causes of ME/CFS.
I haven't seen any CFS/ME research to date targeting microglia.
Finally, mainstream science is starting to catch up with what the CFS/ME community already knows!
Brain holds the key to chronic fatigue
* 11 March 2006
* From New Scientist Print Edition. Subscribe and get 4 free issues.
* Emma Young
SOME dismiss chronic fatigue syndrome as being all in the mind - little do they know how close they are to the truth. For some people the debilitating symptoms of fatigue and poor memory and concentration could be the result of temporary brain damage caused by viral infection.
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) - sometimes known as ME - can follow infection with certain viruses such as the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes glandular fever. One popular explanation is that ongoing viral infection or abnormal immune changes resulting from that infection are to blame for symptoms of CFS.
To test this theory, Andrew Lloyd of the University of New South Wales, Australia, and his colleagues monitored patients newly diagnosed with glandular fever. Six months after the infection, they identified eight people suffering from CFS, while another 31 had no lasting effects.
There was no significant difference in viral load between the two groups, either during or after the acute phase of infection. Although there were subtle differences in the two groups' immune responses, these did not correlate with the course of the illness and could not explain the fatigue syndrome, says Lloyd (The Journal of Infectious Diseases, vol 193, p 664).
"This provides good evidence that post-infectious fatigue is not caused by an active persistent infection," says Peter White, a CFS expert at Barts and The London Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Instead, Lloyd suggests that indirect and temporary brain injury caused by viral infection might be to blame. Microglial cells, part of the brain's immune system, are known to be activated by viral infection in the blood and are thought to act upon other cells in the brain to generate symptoms such as fever. This may explain how an illness such as flu can result in aches and pains and sleepiness.
Previous studies on animals have shown that one-off challenges to the immune system can prolong the activation of microglial cells for several weeks. This effect would last for months in people, says Lloyd, who believes that in people with CFS, microglia might become damaged during the acute infection phase of glandular fever. This could result in temporary changes to the brain's pain pathways.
Tests on people with CFS have shown that their fatigue has its origins in the central nervous system rather than the muscles.
"On balance, the money has to be upstairs," he says. His team now plans to explore this theory using brain imaging and neurocognitive studies.
From issue 2542 of New Scientist magazine, 11 March 2006, page 16