OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study is to review research
examining an immunological basis for chronic fatigue syndrome
(CFS) and to discuss how a disturbance in immunity could
produce central nervous system (CNS)-mediated symptoms.
METHOD: Data relevant to the hypothesis that abnormal cytokine
release plays a role in the pathogenesis of CFS are reviewed
as well as recent evidence relating to potential mechanisms by
which immune products may enter the brain and produce a
disturbance in CNS processes.
RESULTS: Examinations of
cytokine levels in patients with CFS have produced
inconclusive results. Recent evidence suggests that abnormal
release of cytokines within the CNS may cause neural
dysfunction by a variety of complex mechanisms.
Neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with CFS may be more
closely related to disordered cytokine production by glial
cells within the CNS than to circulating cytokines. This
possibility is discussed in the context of unresolved issues
in the pathogenesis of CFS.