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Biol Res Nurs. 2010 Apr;11(4):387-94. doi: 10.1177/1099800409348328. Epub 2009 Nov 22.

Integrated review of the association of cytokines with fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia core symptoms.

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School of Nursing, Virginia Commonwealth University, 1100 East Leigh Street, Richmond, VA 23298, USA.


Fibromyalgia (FMS) is a chronic widespread pain (CWP) and fatigue syndrome that affects three to six million adults in the United States. Core symptoms of FMS include pain, fatigue, and mood and sleep disturbances. To date, consensus has not been reached among researchers regarding the pathogenesis of FMS nor the specific role of cytokine activation on the neuroendocrine-immune response patterns in persons with FMS. The purpose of this article is to describe and synthesize the results of research studies focused on the relationship between cytokines and FMS and among cytokines and core symptoms of FMS. There is some support in the literature for relationships among FMS symptoms and cytokines; however, there are discrepant findings related to whether proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines are elevated or reduced in persons with FMS and whether their levels correlate with the core symptoms of this disorder. Although the use of cytokine biomarkers must be considered exploratory at this time due to the lack of consistent empirical findings, biobehavioral research focused on understanding the relationship of FMS with cytokines may lead to a better understanding of this complex syndrome. This knowledge may ultimately contribute to the development of interventions for symptom management that address not only the symptom manifestation but also a biological mediator of symptoms.

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