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Med Hypotheses. 2001 Aug;57(2):231-7.

Chronic fatigue syndrome: neurological findings may be related to blood--brain barrier permeability.

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Environmental Health Clinic, Sunnybrook and Women's College, Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada.


Despite volumes of international research, the etiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) remains elusive. There is, however, considerable evidence that CFS is a disorder involving the central nervous system (CNS). It is our hypothesis that altered permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) may contribute to ongoing signs and symptoms found in CFS. To support this hypothesis we have examined agents that can increase the blood-brain barrier permeability (BBBP) and those that may be involved in CFS. The factors which can compromise the normal BBBP in CFS include viruses, cytokines, 5-hydroxytryptamine, peroxynitrite, nitric oxide, stress, glutathione depletion, essential fatty acid deficiency, and N-methyl-D-aspartate overactivity. It is possible that breakdown of normal BBBP leads to CNS cellular dysfunction and disruptions of neuronal transmission in CFS. Abnormal changes in BBBP have been linked to a number of disorders involving the CNS; based on review of the literature we conclude that the BBB integrity in CFS warrants investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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