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Eur J Clin Invest. 2012 Feb;42(2):203-12. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2011.02575.x. Epub 2011 Jul 27.

In the mind or in the brain? Scientific evidence for central sensitisation in chronic fatigue syndrome.

Author information

  • 1Department of Human Physiology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium. Jo.Nijs@vub.ac.be

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Central sensitisation entails several top-down and bottom-up mechanisms, all contributing to the hyperresponsiveness of the central nervous system to a variety of inputs. In the late nineties, it was first hypothesised that chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterised by hypersensitivity of the central nervous system (i.e. central sensitisation). Since then, several studies have examined central sensitisation in patients with CFS. This study provides an overview of such studies.

MATERIALS AND METHODS:

Narrative review.

RESULTS:

Various studies showed generalised hyperalgesia in CFS for a variety of sensory stimuli, including electrical stimulation, mechanical pressure, heat and histamine. Various tissues are affected by generalised hyperalgesia: the skin, muscle tissue and the lungs. Generalised hyperalgesia in CFS is augmented, rather than decreased, following various types of stressors like exercise and noxious heat pain. Endogenous inhibition is not activated in response to exercise and activation of diffuse noxious inhibitory controls following noxious heat application to the skin is delayed.

CONCLUSIONS:

The observation of central sensitisation in CFS is in line with our current understanding of CFS. The presence of central sensitisation in CFS corroborates with the presence of several psychological influences on the illness, the presence of infectious agents and immune dysfunctions and the dysfunctional hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis as seen in these severely debilitated patients.

© 2011 The Authors. European Journal of Clinical Investigation © 2011 Stichting European Society for Clinical Investigation Journal Foundation.

PMID:
21793823
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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