Abstract: Urinary Free Cortisol in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Cleare AJ, Blair D, Chambers S, Wessely S


A new study discovered that low cortisol levels are present in some patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but whether this is a cause of symptoms, or the result of symptoms has yet to be determined.


The authors measured 24_hour urinary free cortisol in a group of well_characterized patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.


They obtained 24_hour urine collections from 121 consecutive

clinic patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 64 comparison subjects without the syndrome.


Urinary free cortisol was significantly lower in the subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome regardless of the presence or absence of current or past comorbid psychiatric illness. Lower levels of urinary free cortisol were not related to medication use, sleep disturbance, or disability levels.


There is mild hypocortisolism in chronic fatigue syndrome. Whether a primary feature or secondary to other factors, hypocortisolism may be one factor contributing to the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome.

PMID: 11282703

Am J Psychiatry 2001 Apr 1;158(4):641-643

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