Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an operational concept for clarifying the unknown etiology of the syndrome characterized by the sensation of abnormally prolonged fatigue. The vast majority of patients with CFS are interrupted in their daily or social lives by prolonged fatigue, headache, myalgia, arthralgia, sleep disturbance, or brain dysfunctions. However, the pathogenesis of CFS remains unclear, and so there are still many medical doctors around the world who are skeptical about the disease.
Recently, we organized a study group of Japanese investigators from various fields, such as virology, immunology, endocrinology, physiology, biochemistry, psychiatry, and neuroscience, and as a result of the efforts of this group the mechanism underlying CFS is now becoming a little clearer. We are now able to suggest that CFS can be understood to be a special condition based on an abnormality of the psycho-neuro-endocrino-immunological system caused by psycho-social stress, and which has some genetic components. A reactivation of various types of herpes virus infections and/or chronic mycoplasma infection might occur as a result of immune dysfunction, causing the abnormal production of several cytokines. A distinctive feature of CFS is thought to be a secondary brain dysfunction caused by the abnormal production of such cytokines.
In this chapter, we would like to introduce not only the recent findings on the pathogenesis of CFS, but also the prevalence, diagnosis, therapy, and prognosis of CFS in Japan.
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