Breakthrough made in diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome, Japanese researchers report

[Note: The following press release was distributed Jan 11 via from the Japanese news site Daily Yomiuri Shimbun. We have not yet identified a journal article or other publication further detailing the study.* Meanwhile, others argue that ME/CFS patients often test low in alpha-MSH, not high, so details will be welcome.]

Researchers have discovered a protein in blood that can be used to diagnose chronic fatigue syndrome, a breakthrough that could help detect the ailment during physical checkups.

There are diagnostic criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome – a disorder involving extreme fatigue of unknown cause that continues for at least six months – that rely primarily on subjective symptoms, but there have been no objective markers such as blood tests.

The research team led by Hiroshi Kiyama, a professor of anatomy [in the Graduate School of Medicine] at Osaka City University, examined the intermediate lobes of the pituitary glands of rats in which they induced extreme fatigue by making them exercise for five consecutive days. They found that the lobes excreted extraordinarily high amounts of a protein called alpha-MSH and that alpha-MSH levels in the animals’ blood also increased.

The neurotransmitter dopamine inhibits the secretion of alpha-MSH, but the rats’ ability to produce dopamine declined as their fatigue grew.

The group also tested the levels of alpha-MSH in the blood of 57 people diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and the blood of 30 healthy people.

The average level among the 37 people who had been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome less than five years before was about 50 percent higher than in the healthy people.

Source: Daily Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan) press release Jan 11, 2009

* For abstracts of past reports by Hirosi Kiyama and colleagues involving alpha-MSH, see http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=%22Kiyama%20H%22%5BAuthor%5D%20alpha-MSH

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9 thoughts on “Breakthrough made in diagnosing chronic fatigue syndrome, Japanese researchers report”

  1. carlosams says:

    Have a look on this article, they also mention that there is a deficiency of this hormone in 100% of CFS patients. So instead of 50% higher levels, they point a deficiency.

    1. carlosams says:

      Have a look on this article, they also mention that there is a deficiency of this hormone in 100% of CFS patients. So instead of 50% higher levels, they point a deficiency.

      http://www.moldwarriors.com/msh-info.htm

      Now with the link.

      1. Lono83 says:

        This test is very easy to get in the US and should be covered by insurance. The test is MSH from LabCorp (test # 010421).

        A couple of additional things to note about alpha-MSH, it’s incredibly important– it assists with sleep regulation, inflammation, digestion, pain perception and a host of other things that affect/debilitate people with CFS/ME & Fibro.

        And many, many folks with CFS/ME who have had this test done are deficient!

        Also, note that normal values for MSH are 35-81.

        And if you have low MSH, you should also get your VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) tested. Also, from LabCorp (test #10397). Many CFS/ME folks have abnormally low levels of both.

      2. Lono83 says:

        This test is very easy to get in the US and should be covered by insurance. The test is MSH from LabCorp (test # 010421).

        A couple of additional things to note about alpha-MSH, it’s incredibly important– it assists with sleep regulation, inflammation, digestion, pain perception and a host of other things that affect/debilitate people with CFS/ME & Fibro.

        And many, many folks with CFS/ME who have had this test done are deficient!

        Also, note that normal values for MSH are 35-81.

        And if you have low MSH, you should also get your VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide) tested. Also, from LabCorp (test #10397). Many CFS/ME folks have abnormally low levels of both.

      3. bobdstrategy says:

        Carlosams & Lono83, thanks for your informative comments and info. I wanted to ask if you (or anyone)have any thoughts on specific supplements or ways to help with this deficiency?

  2. Lono83 says:

    I’m not aware of any supplements for MSH (and MSH can’t be prescribed in the US).

    I’ve heard of some people trying to use Melanotan to raise their MSH, but I don’t have any info on whether it was successful (Melanotan is an MSH analogue).

  3. Sandy10m says:

    My take on this is that CFS evolves in every person differently. Hypothetically, if you knew the actual cause of CFS (assuming there is only one cause), and intentionally infected 100 people for a study, each person will show different levels of MSH at different times, and each will show different levels of adrenal hormone at different times, and each will show different levels of mitochondrial damage at different times, etc etc. And this is assuming there is only ONE cause. However, I believe that we have multiple causes, that mast of us are lumped into CFS because the category is there. We will probably have clinically confirmed variations, such as Viral CFS, or Toxin CFS, or Psychological CFS. And then we will probably have sub-groups inside that, such as Viral CFS (XMRV) and Viral CFS (HPV) and Viral CFS (EBV), etc. Unfortunately, our condition is NOT simple, otherwise the researchers would have found something by now. The main problem is that people representing ALL the CFS conditions listed above are taking part in clinical trials and testing. We need to start figuring out which type(s) of CFS we all have, based upon this testing. We need to be tested for viruses (like XMRV), toxins (like DDT), mitochondrial function (including MSH), and then report on which subgroup we represent when we are included in future clinical trials. I, for one, would LOVE to see a clinical trial which first screens the CFS patients for one particular problem (such as XMRV) and then does a new screening for some other problem (such as MSH). I think we would see many more correlations than what we see now.

  4. richard m says:

    Research into the underlying biochemical causes of fatigue, sleep, and stress is the only way forward for CFS. After 20 years of looking for a serious viral/immune cause for the disease there is a spectacular lack of concrete data. People with the disease test negative for nearly every immunological test under the sun. It is patently obvious to all those in my ME/CFS support group in New Zealand that the disorder in neurological: the three main symptoms beside fatige being brain fog, sleep deprivation, and emotional sensitivity to stress. It’s time to look at abnormalities in the nervous system and the brain.

    Hope you all get well soon.

    Richard M.

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