Chronic Bacterial and Viral Infections in Neurodegenerative and Neurobehavioral Diseases

Garth L. Nicolson, PhD


Lab Med. 2008;39(5):291-299. 

In This Article

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by unexplained, persistent, long-term disabling fatigue plus additional signs and symptoms, including neurophysiological symptoms.140 Brain imaging studies showed that CFS patients are dysfunctional in their ventral anterior cingulate cortex function, and they also have other brain MRI abnormalities.[141,142] Most CFS patients also have immunological abnormalities (reviewed in[143,144]).

A large subset of CFS patients can be characterized by the presence of chronic bacterial and viral infections,[16,17,144,145,146,147,148] although this has not been seen in all studies.[149] For example, using the blood of CFS patients (N=100) and PCR procedures, an overwhelming majority of patients showed evidence of multiple, systemic bacterial and viral infections (odds ratio=18.0, P <0.001).[17] Chronic fatigue syndrome patients had a high prevalence (51%) of 1 of 4 Mycoplasma species (odds ratio=13.8, P <0.001) and often showed evidence of co-infections with different Mycoplasma species, C. pneumoniae (8%, odds ratio=8.6, P <0.01), and active HHV6 (30%, odds ratio=4.5, P <0.001).[17] In a separate study, the presence of these infections has also been related to the number and severity of signs/symptoms in 200 CFS patients.[146]

A a sizable percentage of CFS/ME patients are also infected with B. burgdorferi.[148,150,151] Other infections are also found in CFS patients, such as cytomegalovirus, enteroviruses, and human herpesvirus-7 (reviewed in[43]).


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