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High titers of anti-Epstein-Barr virus DNA polymerase are found in patients with severe fatiguing illness

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Forty-one patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), 76 healthy

controls matched with the patient group for age range, sex,

race, and socioeconomic class, and 22 symptomatic patients

with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) had serum sampled for

antibodies against 2 Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) replicating

enzymes. Abnormal titers of antibodies were found twice as

often in CFS patients as controls (34.1% vs. 17.1%), with SAD

patients having an intermediate frequency (27.3%). Stratifying

for disease severity sharpened the differences considerably,

with the sicker CFS and SAD patients having 52% and 50%

abnormal tests, respectively; more mildly afflicted CFS and

SAD patients had a frequency of abnormal tests in the normal

range. Antibodies to EBV DNA polymerase (DNAP) were the more

sensitive of the two tests in that they were positive in all

cases but one. These findings suggest that antibodies against

EBV DNAP may be a useful marker in delineating a subset of

patients with severe fatiguing illness for appropriate

treatment trials and for monitoring their outcomes.

Natelson BH, Ye N, Moul DE, Jenkins FJ, Oren DA, Tapp WN, Cheng YC

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