Similarities of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Comparison of Blood Co-Infections – Source: Institute for Molecular Medicine

[Note: this is an abstract of a presentation Prof. Garth Nicolson delivered at the March 2009 IACFS/ME Conference in Reno. The full text of the article was made available May 28 in the free-access Journal of IiME (Invest in ME). Dr. Nicolson is director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine. For more about his work, go to ]

Objective: The majority of neurodegenerative disease, fatiguing illnesses and neurobehavioral disease patients have chronic bacterial and viral infections.(1) Therefore:

• We examined the presence of some co-infections in the blood of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

• And compared these to CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome] patients.

Methods: 148 North American patients were examined for various infections by isolation of leukocyte blood fractions and forensic polymerase chain reaction to determine various infections.

CFS patients (n=100, age=39.7±8.9) show evidence of multiple, systemic bacterial and viral infections (OR = 18.0, 95% CL 8.5-37.9, p< 0.001) that could play an important role in CFS morbidity.

• CFS patients had a high prevalence (51%) of one of four Mycoplasma species (OR = 13.8, 95% CL 5.8-32.9, p< 0.001) and often showed evidence of co-infections with different Mycoplasma species, Chlamydia pneumoniae (OR = 8.6, 95% CL 1.0-71.1, p< 0.01) and/or active Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6) (OR = 4.5, 95% CL 2.0-10.2, P < 0.001).

• We found that 8% of the CFS patients showed evidence of C. pneumoniae

• And 31% of active HHV-6 infections.

Recently we examined Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) patients (n=48, age 8.4±2.8) and found:

• A large subset (58.3%) of ASD patients showed evidence of Mycoplasma species infections compared to age-matched control subjects (OR = 13.9, p<0.001).

• ASD patients also had C. pneumoniae (4/48 or 8.3% positive, OR = 5.6, p<0.01)

• And Human Herpes Virus-6 (HHV-6, 14/48 or 29.2%, OR = 4.5, p<0.01) infections in their blood.(4)

Conclusions: The results indicate that similar to CFS patients a large subset of neurobehavioral disease patients (ASD) show evidence of chronic infections. Although there were significant differences in median age and diagnoses between the two groups of patients, they tended to have similar incidence of three types of chronic infections.

1. Nicolson, G.L. Chronic infections in neurodegenerative and neurobehavioral diseases. Lab Medicine 2008; 39(5): 291-299.
2. Nicolson GL, Nasralla M, Gan R, Haier J, De Meirleir K. Evidence for bacterial (Mycoplasma, Chlamydia) and viral (HHV-6) co-infections in chronic fatigue syndrome patients. J Chronic Fatigue Syndr 2003; 11(2):7-20.
3. Nicolson GL, Gan R, Haier J. Multiple co-infections (Mycoplasma, Chlamydia, Human Herpesvirus-6) in blood of chronic fatigue syndrome patients: association with signs and symptoms. Acta Pathol Microbiol Immunol Scand (APMIS) 2003; 111: 557-566.
4. Nicolson GL, et al. Evidence for Mycoplasma, Chlamydia pneunomiae and HHV-6 co-infections in the blood of patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders. J Neuroscience Res 2007; 85:1143-1148.
Source: Abstract of presentation to IACFS/ME Conference, Mar 2009, Reno, Nevada. By Nicolson GL, Nicolson NL, Haier J. The Institute for Molecular Medicine, Huntington Beach, California, USA; Department of Surgery, University Hospital, Munster, Germany. [E-mail:]

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One thought on “Similarities of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Autism Spectrum Disorders: Comparison of Blood Co-Infections – Source: Institute for Molecular Medicine”

  1. LuvnMySon07 says:

    So let me try and understand this right:
    If the mother during pregnancy had chlamydia then the child in fact could become infected by chlamydia therefore causing or can cause autism or autism like symptoms or other problems?

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