CFS- Cause or Correlation
A virus previously linked to prostate cancer may play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).
A study published Thursday in the journal, Science, found the virus, XMRV, in the blood of two-thirds of the 101 patients with CFS.
Whether people with CFS are prone to more infection or whether XMRV is a cause of disease is unclear.
The scientists from the National Cancer Institute and Nevada’s Whittemore Peterson Institute indicate that XMRV, may be just a passenger virus that invades a weakened immune system.
Comparing blood samples from 101 people suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome against 218 people without it, the virus was present in the blood off 68 percent of the CFS patients and only four percent of the control group, reports the WSJ Health Blog.
At the same time four percent of healthy people carried the virus as well.
The XMRV is a retrovirus that permanently embeds in the body. Researchers are unsure what role it may play in the body but it is related to viruses that cause cancer in mice. It has been found in about one quarter of 200 prostate tumor samples and six percent of noncancerous prostate samples.
"This suggests that several million Americans may be infected with a retrovirus of as-yet-unknown pathogenic potential," the researchers concluded.
Chronic fatigue syndrome affects more than one million Americans and 17 million worldwide and is characterized by at least six months of severe fatigue, an inability to maintain a social life, and an impaired memory. The condition has been linked to the Epstein-Barr virus or human herpes virus-6.
Some suggest that adopting a gluten-free diet may help offset symptoms.
The findings suggest XMRV may be a contributing factor in the pathogenesis of CFS.
"There is still much that we do not understand," including whether people with either disease just are more prone to infection, cautioned Tufts University microbiologist John Coffin in an accompanying editorial, reports AP. #