Journal of Clinical Immunology

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 414–421 | Cite as

Acute Phase Responses and Cytokine Secretion in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  • Joseph G. Cannon
  • Jonathan B. Angel
  • Richard W. Ball
  • Leslie W. Abad
  • Laura Fagioli
  • Anthony L. Komaroff


This study addresses the hypothesis that clinical manifestations of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are due in part to abnormal production of or sensitivity to cytokines such as interleukin-1β (IL-1β) and IL-6 under basal conditions or in response to a particular physical stress: 15 min of exercise consisting of stepping up and down on a platform adjusted to the height of the patella. The study involved 10 CFS patients and 11 age-, sex-, and activity-matched controls: of these, 6 patients and 4 controls were tested in both the follicular and the luteal phases of the menstrual cycle, and the remainder were tested in only one phase, for a total of 31 experimental sessions. Prior to exercise, plasma concentrations of the acute phase reactant α2-macroglobulin were 29% higher in CFS patients (P < 0.008) compared to controls. Secretion of IL-6 was generally higher for CFS patients (~38%), however, this difference was statistically significant only if all values over a 3-day period were analyzed by repeated-measures ANOVA (P = 0.035). IL-6 secretion correlated with plasma α2-macroglobulin in control subjects at rest (R = 0.767, P = 0.001). Immediately after exercise, the CFS patients reported greater ratings of perceived exertion (P=0.027) compared to the healthy control subjects. Ratings of perceived exertion correlated with IL-1β secretion by cells from healthy control subjects (R = 0.603, P = 0.022), but not from CFS patients, and IL-1β secretion was not different between groups. Exercise induced a slight (<12%) but significant (P = 0.006) increase in IL-6 secretion, but the responses of the CFS patients were not different than controls. Furthermore, no significant exercise-induced changes in body temperature or plasma α2-macroglobulin were observed. These data indicate that under basal conditions, CFS is associated with increased IL-6 secretion which is manifested by chronically elevated plasma α2-macroglobulin concentrations. These modest differences suggest that cytokine dysregulation is not a singular or dominant factor in the pathogenesis of CFS.

Chronic fatigue syndrome acute phase responses 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph G. Cannon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jonathan B. Angel
    • 1
  • Richard W. Ball
    • 2
  • Leslie W. Abad
    • 3
  • Laura Fagioli
    • 4
  • Anthony L. Komaroff
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of MedicineNew England Medical CenterBoston
  2. 2.Noll Physiological Research CenterPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park
  3. 3.Noll LaboratoryPennsylvania State UniversityUniversity Park
  4. 4.USDA Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on AgingTufts UniversityBoston

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