Evaluation of the relationship between chronic fatigue syndrome and immunodeficiencies affecting mucosal barrier functions

Project outline

Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) suffer from persistent, severely limiting exhaustion, which may lead to a complete inability to work and is accompanied by a deterioration in their condition after exertion. With ME/CFS, neither the causes nor possible treatment options are clear, which represents a very high level of suffering for those affected.

Since changes in the immune system are thought to play a key role in the development of chronic fatigue syndrome, we expect to find immunological changes based on patient data already collected. In addition to this retrospective data analysis, previously diagnosed CFS patients as well as healthy controls will be recruited and a saliva sample, a throat swab and one single blood sample collected. These samples will initially be tested for Epstein-Barr virus load to clarify whether CFS may be triggered by an infection. Secondly, a potential mucosal barrier disruption resulting in increased uptake of a range of pollutants, endotoxins and food components into the bloodstream will be investigated. As a barrier marker of particular interest, the so-called lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a cell wall component of gram-negative intestinal bacteria, will be analysed in the blood. In order to detect further changes in the immune system of CFS patients, the role of certain complement factors and, in addition, the significance of granular contents released from activated eosinophilic granulocytes will be prospectively investigated. The results will be statistically evaluated by the project team at the Institute of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research with the aid of a data collection programme. These studies will lead to a better understanding of the pathophysiology of chronic fatigue syndrome and, in the long term, to the development of treatment options for this disease.

Hyperlink to projectpage and workgroup

Medizinische Universität Wien