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Adrienne Dellwo

Diagnostic Marker for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

By January 11, 2010

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NEWSBRIEF: Japanese researchers say they've found a protein in the blood of people with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS) that could be used as a diagnostic marker, according to a press release. So far, their work doesn't appear to be published in a medical journal.

The Osaka City University team says it found extremely high levels of the protein, called alpha-MSH, in the blood and intermediate lobes of the pituitary glands of fatigued rats. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter that's frequently low in ME/CFS, normally keeps alpha-MSH from getting too high, but the rats became less able to produce dopamine as they grew more fatigued.

The team then tested alpha-MSH levels in blood from 57 people with ME/CFS and 30 healthy people. In the ME/CFS group, the alpha-MSH level was about 50% higher than in the control group.

The researchers believe this could become a long-awaited diagnostic marker for ME/CFS. However, these results will need to be validated by further research.

A lot of researchers are looking for diagnostic markers for ME/CFS, and many of them are focusing on exercise-related changes because of the abnormal physiological reaction people with ME/CFS have to exertion, which is called post-exertional malaise.

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January 11, 2010 at 5:43 pm
(1) james says:

Never mind this. Why has there been no comment in N.A. about the recent British study that found NO XMRV in CFS?

Guide Response: Actually, there’s been a bunch. I saw it in the Wall Street Journal and several other news sites. My own commentary on it is here: British XMRV Study Results Released. It includes responses from the WPI and CFIDS Association.

January 11, 2010 at 7:03 pm
(2) j duncan says:

i can’t guarantee anything, but as a scientist I think I would rather bet on the British study being false if I had to bet 50/50. There were a lot of flaws in its design.

January 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm
(3) ahimsa says:

In the first comment, james asked, “Why has there been no comment in N.A. about the recent British study that found NO XMRV in CFS?”

All I can say is that you must not have looked in the right places because I’ve seen plenty of comments in NA (assuming that means North America). Try this page at the CFIDS Assn web site (http://www.cfids.org/cfidslink/2010/010603.asp ) and this page at the WPI web site (http://wpinstitute.org/news/news_current.html, Jan 6 press release). I’ve seen news reports, too (Wall Street Journal is one but don’t remember all the other sources).

That’s just the tip of the iceburg – lots of reactions to the British study are out there!

January 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm
(4) Andrew Porter says:

Two issues, first the finding that the drug, Amantadine Hydrochloride, reduced the level of fatigue in a number of M.E. patients, where this drug modifies dopamine levels. A similar effect has been found in Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, this drug was originally intended to treat Parkinson’s disease, a disease characterized by incorrect levels of dopamine.

The second element relates of XMRV infection, and whether the British study used exactly the same method as the earlier study. If not, then it is not possible to make a true comparison. In addition, even if chronic XMRV infection is found, it is only after the infection is successfully removed that a conclusion can be reached as to whether this is the cause of M.E., or a consequence. My personal feelings, after having reactivate Herpes pathogens removed, and a Streptococcal bacterial pathogen without any great benefit suggests, and it is only a suggestion, that if chronic XMRV infection is present, the other pathogens were a consequence of this chronic infection.

January 16, 2010 at 7:55 am
(5) Nathalie says:

Is this the study you are talking about?


January 17, 2010 at 3:59 pm
(6) Carol E McCormick says:

Any idiots that need to torture sentient creatures for no reason at all, such as the Japanesse researchers who used rats, should be removed from their positions. After all, post-exertional fatigue is more than easily studied in humans with confirmed CFIDS. Why bother the rats? How inhumane and what a waste of time and money towards finding a cure for humans.

January 17, 2010 at 11:27 pm
(7) keith says:

So we should cause CFS patients to excercise and relapse rather than use a rodent that spreads disease like the plague in a study. I’d rather use the rat thank you.

January 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm
(8) Adrienne Dellwo says:


That appears to be a related study, but the one I mentioned above deals directly with ME/CFS. It still doesn’t appear to be published.

July 28, 2010 at 5:45 am
(9) Rebecca says:

Rats carry XMRV.

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