Excerpted with permission from Phoenix Rising, April 16, 2014
By Andrew Gladman
It’s safe to say that the past couple of weeks, following the IACFS/ME 2014 conference, have been something of a whirlwind in terms of new ME/CFS research being unveiled.
Now that the dust has had a chance to settle let’s take a step back and discuss a topic that many consider to be one of the most promising findings discussed at the conference.
Leptin seemed to be the word on many researcher lips. During the first day of the conference Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D. made clear his interest in this molecule, directly referencing his interest in the recent study by Younger et al.
“A hormone called leptin was found to be tightly correlated to many of these pro-inflammatory cytokines, and to be the most distinctive difference between CFS patients and control subjects.”
Clear markers between controls and ME/CFS patients have, in the past, proven very difficult to identify and even more so to verify in further studies and trial. This has unfortunately led to the ‘diagnosis by exclusion’ criteria which serve as such an anchor in slowing the progress into ME/CFS research.
Leptin on the other hand not only shows promise as a marker of disease activity but the recent research even goes so far as to suggest that fatigue severity is very closely correlated to leptin levels, potentially providing not only a marker of disease but even the potential of a marker for disease severity at a molecular level.
It is clear that many esteemed researchers and clinicians in the ME/CFS field seem to be very intrigued by the leptin abnormalities found relative to controls by these studies. Given the possibilities that serum leptin analysis could provide, it is clear why!
To better understand why these findings have such significance, we have to go back to the basics and understand what exactly this molecule is and what significance an abnormality in its concentration can have.
To find out what leptin is, and why it has such profound effects on our immmune systems go here.