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J Med. 1993;24(2-3):145-60.

Persistence of enterovirus RNA in muscle biopsy samples suggests that some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome result from a previous, inflammatory viral myopathy.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London, England.


Molecular hybridization using an enterovirus group specific probe detected virus RNA in muscle biopsy samples from 25 of 96 cases of inflammatory muscle disease and similarly from 41 of 158 cases of postviral fatigue syndrome (PFS). Enterovirus RNA was detected in only two of 152 samples of control muscle. The inflammatory myopathy group comprised patients with polymyositis (PM), juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM) or adult dermatomyositis (DM), and all showed the presence of an inflammatory infiltrate and fiber necrosis on histological examination of a muscle biopsy sample. In contrast, muscle samples from the PFS group were histologically normal except for non-specific changes such as occasional single fiber atrophy. By analogy with enteroviral myocarditis, which can progress to a post-inflammatory disease with persistence of virus in myocardium and disposes to the rapid development of dilated cardiomyopathy, we propose that PFS syndrome may be a sequela of a previous inflammatory viral myopathy.

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