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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a heterogeneous disorder characterized by severe prolonged unexplained fatigue and a variety of associated symptoms such as arthralgias, myalgias, cognitive dysfunction, and severe sleep disturbances. Many patients initially present with an acute onset of apparent infectious origin with either an upper respiratory or gastrointestinal illness, fever, chills, tender lymphadenopathy, and malaise suggestive of a flu-like illness. In some cases, specific viral infections can be identified at the outset, particularly herpes viruses such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), human herpes virus-6 (HHV-6), and cytomegalovirus (CMV). Transfer factors (TF) with specific activity against these herpes viruses has been documented.
With some studies suggesting that persistent viral activity may play a role in perpetuation of CFS symptoms, there appears to be a rationale for the use of TF in patients with CFS and recent reports have suggested that transfer factor may play a beneficial role in this disorder. This report focuses on the heterogeneity of CFS, the necessity for randomized coded studies, the importance of patient selection and sub-classification in clinical trials, and the need to utilize specific end-points for determining efficacy of treatment.