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Does varicella-zoster virus infection of the peripheral ganglia cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? – Source: Medical Hypotheses, Jun 9, 2009

  [ 52 votes ]   [ 8 Comments ]
By Judith S Shapiro • www.ProHealth.com • June 17, 2009


[Note: Peripheral ganglia are part of the peripheral nervous system, which connects the central nervous system (brain & spinal cord) to the limbs and organs. Varicella zoster is the chickenpox/shingles virus.]

This article posits that infection of the peripheral ganglia causes at least some cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), with a neurotropic herpesvirus, particularly varicella-zoster virus (VZV), as the most likely cause of the infection.

Virtually all CFS symptoms could be produced by an infection of the peripheral ganglia, with:

• Infection of the autonomic ganglia causing fatigue, postural hypotension, and sleep disturbances,

• And infection of the sensory ganglia causing sensory symptoms such as chronic pain.

Furthermore, infections of the peripheral ganglia are known to cause long-term nerve dysfunction, which would help explain the chronic course of CFS.

Herpesviruses have long been suspected as the cause of CFS; this theory has recently been supported by studies showing that administering antiherpes agents causes substantial improvement in some CFS patients.

Varicella-zoster virus is known to frequently reactivate in the peripheral ganglia of previously healthy adults and cause sudden, debilitating illness, making it a likely candidate as a cause of CFS.

Moreover, many of the symptoms of CFS overlap with those of herpes zoster (shingles), with the exception that painful rash is not one of the symptoms of CFS.

A model is therefore proposed in which CFS is one of the many manifestations of zoster sine herpete; that is, herpes zoster without rash.

Furthermore, re-exposure to varicella-zoster virus in the form of chickenpox has become less common in the past few decades; without such re-exposure, immunity to Varicella-zoster virus drops, which could explain the increased incidence of CFS.

Co-infection with multiple herpesviruses is a possibility, as some CFS patients show signs of infection with other herpesviruses including Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, and HHV6. These three herpesviruses can attack immune cells, and may therefore promote neurotropic herpesvirus reactivation in the ganglia.

The possibility of varicella-zoster virus as the causal agent in CFS has previously received almost no attention; the possibility that CFS involves infection of the peripheral ganglia has likewise been largely overlooked.

This suggests that the search for a viral cause of CFS has been far from exhaustive. Several antiherpes drugs are available, as is a vaccine for varicella-zoster virus; more research into such agents as possible treatments for CFS is urgently needed.

Source: Medical Hypotheses, Jun 9, 2009. PMID: 19520522, Shapiro JS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. [E-mail: shapirjs@umich.edu]




Please Discuss This Article:   Post a Comment 

The circus continues
Posted by: drewmanman
Jun 17, 2009
Ms Shapiro, I appreciate your efforts to suggest the cause of CFS, but there are about 20,000 other proposed causes of this illness, and I'm getting really tired of reading a new hypothesis every day. Drew
Reply Reply

 
It's not "just another theory" but has implications for treatment, and a response to CDC claims
Posted by: JudithShapiro
Jun 23, 2009
Hi, Drew

I'm the author of the paper summarized here, and I agree with you that there are an overwhelming number of proposed causes for CFS. I think we need in-depth evaluation of the causes that have already been put forth, rather than just more and more proposed causes. But, I hope I can convince you that my varicella-zoster theory isn't "just yet another proposed cause."

First of all, I'd like to point out a very important implication of my theory – the search for a viral cause of CFS has *not* been at all thorough, despite what the CDC claims. Dating back to the 1980s, CFS patients and the clinicians who treated them felt that a virus, most likely one in the herpes family, probably caused CFS. But no one has been able to identify the specific virus, and government agencies (especially the CDC) have now claimed that CFS can't be a viral infection, that the search for a viral cause has been very thorough, and that all plausible viruses have been ruled out. But that isn't true. In fact, not even all the human viruses in the herpes family have been considered as the cause of CFS – and there are only eight human herpes viruses. Varicella-zoster virus, one of the most common and arguably the most virulent of the herpes viruses, seems to have been completely overlooked.

Secondly, if my theory is correct, then there already are *treatments* available that should help many cases of CFS. (Many of the other proposed causes out there have no known treatment.) There are a number of anti-herpes drugs available that have some effect against varicella-zoster virus. Some researchers (notably the Montoya group at Stanford and Dr. Lerner in Michigan) have had some success with using anti-herpes drugs to treat CFS patients, but the drugs don't work in all cases. My theory helps explain why the anti-herpes drugs might work in some cases, but not others.

I also should point out that my interest in CFS stems from the fact that I have CFS myself. I'm not paid for my CFS research in any way. (ProHealth's statement that I work for the University of Michigan is an error; my PhD is from the University of Michigan and I get email through them, but they do not employ me.) My theory of varicella-zoster virus infection as a cause of CFS comes not only from my review of the literature, but from careful observance of my own illness. I have been taking substantial doses of anti-herpes agents for three months and I'm better, but it's too soon to say whether this will be a cure or not. So, my interest in CFS is the same as yours – I want to return to health.

Because the summary of an article needs to be brief, it doesn't fully discuss the implications of my theory. I'd be happy to send the whole manuscript to you or anyone else who would like to know more about this -- just send an email to the address listed above (shapirjs@umich.edu).

Sincerely, Judith Shapiro

 


Does varicella-zoster virus infection of the peripheral ganglia cause Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Posted by: kerrion12
Jun 28, 2009
This is definately one of the best articles i have read on cfs/me - after being diagnosed with lots of different aliments and finally cfs/me. I regularly take anti fungal meds also antibiotics on times, i have been very ill again over the last two months struggling to function and with a tremendos pain in my back and neck. I have started anti viral meds last week and my pain has disappeared also my energy and mood have improved. Anti virals may not be the answer for everyone but i am out of pain and am able to do my 16hours in work this week.
Reply Reply

 
antivirals for cfs
Posted by: IanH
Jul 6, 2009
Tell us how you are doing in 6 months time. I would be interested.

 


Also on board with Anti-Virals
Posted by: mujuer
Jul 10, 2009
This is an amazing article and it rings true to me after finding out about my own hidden stealth viruses. I got all of the tests and I too started anti-virals at some high dosages and almost all of my symptoms are gone. This might and I repeat "might" be the reason for my rib pain, shingles with no rash. I have noticed that there are alot more articles now then there have been about new research regarding viruses and a connection. Thank you Prohealth for all of your hard work to find us this information.
Reply Reply

Also on board with Anti-Virals
Posted by: mujuer
Jul 10, 2009
This is an amazing article and it rings true to me after finding out about my own hidden stealth viruses. I got all of the tests and I too started anti-virals at some high dosages and almost all of my symptoms are gone. This might and I repeat "might" be the reason for my rib pain, shingles with no rash. I have noticed that there are alot more articles now then there have been about new research regarding viruses and a connection to some subsets of CFS and Fibro. Thank you Prohealth for all of your hard work to find us this information.
Reply Reply

could be onto something
Posted by: mrogers
Jul 11, 2009
I had the shingles in 2001. It broke out in my back. About 18 months later I experienced what could be termed CFS. I had all the sypmtoms. One symptom that the Dr ignored was the fact that when the CFS was bad my shingles area ached. I still experience bouts of CFS symptoms from time to time - in between I am totally healthy. But when I do, the old shingles area aches badly. I think in my case a kind of herpes virus could be attacking my nervous system. Can anyone suggest what dosage and type of anti viral I could try. I do take famvir for cold sores from time to time and have also had this for the shingles.
Reply Reply

This is a very informative article.
Posted by: meditationlotus
Aug 5, 2009
This may be one explanation for the Neurally Mediated Hypotension often seen in CFS. It is a form of Peripheral Neuropathy. Lyme Disease can also cause this type of nerve damage, and the tests for Lyme Disease are not acurate and the treatment leaves much to be desired. I am glad that more research is being done in this area and that our illnesses are being taken seriously. Now its time for accurate tests and reliable treatment.
Reply Reply


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