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Eosinophil cationic protein serum levels & allergy in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 43 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Conti F, Magrini L, Priori R, Valesini G, Bonini S • • February 10, 1996

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a syndrome of uncertain
etiopathogenesis characterized by disabling fatigue associated
with a variable number of somatic and/or neuropsychologic
symptoms. In patients with CFS, several immunologic
abnormalities can be detected, including a higher prevalance
of allergy. The aim of this study was to determine whether CFS
patients, well studied for their allergy profile, show signs
of eosinophil activation, as detectable by the measurement in
serum of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) levels. In 35
consecutive CFS outpatients (diagnosis based on the Centers
for Disease Control case definition), ECP was measured in
serum by a competitive enzyme immunoassay (ECP-FEIA kit, Kabi
Pharmacia Diagnostics, Uppsala, Sweden). Fourteen disease-free
subjects with no history of CFS or allergy were selected as
controls. ECP serum levels were significantly higher in CFS
patients than in controls (18.0 +/- 11.3 micrograms/l vs 7.3
+/- 2.1 micrograms/l; P < 0.01).

In the CFS population, the
prevalence of RAST positivity to one or more allergens was
77%, while no control showed positive RAST. Twelve of the 14
CFS patients with increased ECP serum levels were
RAST-positive. However, CFS RAST-positive patients had no
significantly higher ECP serum levels than CFS RAST-negative
patients (19.3 +/- 12.4 micrograms/l vs 13.6 +/- 3.7
micrograms/l; P = 0.4). This is the first report of increased
serum levels of ECP in CFS. On the basis of the available
data, it is discussed whether eosinophil activation has a
pathogenetic role in CFS or is linked to the frequently
associated allergic condition, or, finally, whether a common
immunologic background may exist for both atopy and CFS.

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