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What Triggers Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

IoPPN professor Carmine Pariante stressed that while the study's main finding is a useful addition to scant scientific knowledge about CFS

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CFS
In another study, the team from the varsity, found an increased risk of a neck artery tear after having the flu. VOA

Scientists exploring what may trigger a complex disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have found clues in the way some people’s immune systems respond more actively to a health attack.

A severe illness characterized by long-term physical and mental fatigue, CFS is thought to affect up to 17 million people worldwide and around 250,000 people in Britain.

Sufferers are often bed-bound and unable to carry out basic daily activities like washing and feeding themselves.

The researchers used a drug known as interferon alpha to create a model of the syndrome and found that patients whose immune response to treatment was hyperactive or exaggerated were more likely to then develop severe fatigue.

CFS
Russell’s team used this knowledge and measured fatigue and immune system markers in 55 patients before, during and after treatment with interferon alpha.

“For the first time, we have shown that people who are prone to develop a CFS-like illness have an overactive immune system, both before and during a challenge to the immune system,” said Alice Russell of King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), who led the work.

The condition, as well as research into it, is highly contentious, in part because its possible causes and range of debilitating symptoms are poorly understood.

Interferon alpha is used as a treatment for hepatitis C infection, and activates the immune system in the same way as a powerful infection. Many patients who receive interferon alpha experience extreme fatigue during treatment, and some continue to feel chronic fatigue for many months after the drug course is completed.

Vaccination, CFS
Biologist Jason Plyler prepares to test at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. VOA

Russell’s team used this knowledge and measured fatigue and immune system markers in 55 patients before, during and after treatment with interferon alpha.

They found that the 18 of those 55 who went on to develop a CFS-like illness had a hyperactive immune system before treatment, and an highly overactive response during treatment. “(This suggests) people who have an exaggerated immune response to a trigger may be more at risk of developing CFS,” Russell told reporters at a briefing about the findings.

Also Read: Regular Sleep in Childhood Leads to Healthy BMI Later

IoPPN professor Carmine Pariante stressed that while the study’s main finding is a useful addition to scant scientific knowledge about CFS – also known as myalgic encephalopathy (ME) – it offers few clues on how to treat, cure or prevent it.

“It’s a light in the fog,” he told reporters. “But a better understanding of the biology underlying the development of CFS is needed to help patients.” (VOA)

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Reduce Heart Disease Risk by Quitting Smoking

The cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly after quitting smoking

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smoking is injurious
Researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of men and women from Massachusetts, which began enrolment in 1948. Pixabay

Heavy cigarette smokers can reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years if they quit, researchers said.

It takes at least five to 10 years and perhaps up to 25 years after quitting, for CVD risk to become as low as that of a person who has never smoked, according to the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

“The cardiovascular system begins to heal relatively quickly after quitting smoking, even for people who have smoked heavily over decades,” said Hilary Tindle, Founding Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Tobacco Addiction and Lifestyle (ViTAL).

Researchers used data from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of men and women from Massachusetts, which began enrolment in 1948.

smoking is injurious
Heavy cigarette smokers can reduce their risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) by 39 per cent within five years if they quit. Pixabay

Also Read: New Study Suggests Living Near Parks and Nature Linked to Greater Happiness

The study used prospective data from 1954 through 2014 from 8,770 participants to determine the effect of lifetime smoking and smoking cessation on the risk of CVD, which includes myocardial infarction, stroke, CVD death and heart failure.

“Our team documented what happens to CVD risk after quitting smoking relative to people who continued to smoke and to those who never smoked,” said study lead author Meredith Duncan from Vanderbilt University. (IANS)