Following are summaries of the seven grants as described in the NIH press release:
Human Spinal Cord Glial Cytokines and Chronic Pain
Dianne Lorton, Ph.D., Sun Health Research Institute, Sun City, Arizona
Dr. Lorton will establish a tissue bank to make brain and spinal cord tissue available to study CFS/FM (fibromyalga). She has gathered an interdisciplinary research team that will determine the extent to which chronic pain in these patients is associated with glial (support cells of the nervous system) activation and resulting cytokine production (compounds essential to engage the immune response). While studies in rodents have shown this activation leads to inflammation and chronic pain, Dr. Lorton will test the extent that this process is involved in humans in order to target mechanisms to treat the chronic pain associated with CFS.
Stress and Neuroimmune Dysregulation in Chronic Fatigue Patients
Katherine Light, Ph.D., University of Utah, St. Lake City, Utah
Dr. Light plans to first explore in humans the suggested mechanisms for the perception of pain and fatigue in CFS by assessing repeated patterns in the immune and neurological systems that are present before, during and immediately after mental and physical exertion. There is a possibility that findings will lead to the development of a biomarker for CFS. Her second pilot study will focus on identifying family risk patterns in CFS using the Utah Family Data Base (large genealogy data base) to explore the familial/genetic component of CFS. Identifying a genetic predisposition to CFS will assist in the development of more effective medications.
Mast Cells, Antidepressants and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Theoharis Theoharides, M.D.,Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts
Dr. Theoharides will explore the relationship of human mast cells (molecules released in stress) in the brain, not only in explaining the development of CFS but also in explaining the effects of antidepressants in relieving symptoms in CFS patients. Dr. Theoharides will examine the cellular changes that explain CFS symptoms using three different classes of antidepressants: tricyclic, serotonin uptake inhibitors and bupropion. Future studies will build on these findings to develop clinical trials of select antidepressants or other molecules that inhibit CFS.
Neuropeptide Y and Dipeptidyl-peptidase IV (CD26) in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Mary Ann Fletcher, Ph.D., University of Miami, Miami, Florida
Dr. Fletcher plans to study the role of specific peptides: neuropeptide Y (NPY) and dipeptidyl-peptidase (CD26) in the development of CFS. These peptides, formed from amino acids (the basic building blocks of the body that are essential in combating illness), regulate many physiological and disease processes in the cardiorespiratory, immune, nervous and endocrine systems. This study will also examine aspects of the relationship between different levels of peptides and the severity of CFS symptoms and may lead to the development of biomarkers.
Proteomics of Cerebrospinal Fluid in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
James Baraniuk, M.D., Georgetown University, Washington D.C.
Dr. Baraniuk has found that despite its diverse clinical syndromes, the CFS proteome (the entire group of proteins in an organism or system) is the same, suggesting a strong relationship with malfunctioning of the central nervous system. Dr. Baraniuk developed the first predictive model of CFS based solely on objective data and he now proposes to recruit a new group of CFS and Healthy Control subjects to determine if the proteins in their cerebrospinal fluid will be a predictive marker of the spectrum of CFS symptoms. There is a high probability that these methods and markers will be of diagnostic value and will be useful for assessing changes over time in disease severity and treatment effects.