Send to

Choose Destination
J Affect Disord. 2012 Feb;136(3):933-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.09.004. Epub 2011 Oct 4.

Evidence for inflammation and activation of cell-mediated immunity in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): increased interleukin-1, tumor necrosis factor-α, PMN-elastase, lysozyme and neopterin.

Author information

Maes Clinics @ TRIA, Bangkok, Thailand.



There is evidence that inflammatory pathways and cell-mediated immunity (CMI) play an important role in the pathophysiology of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). Activation of inflammatory and CMI pathways, including increased levels of cytokines, is known to induce fatigue and somatic symptoms. Given the broad spectrum inflammatory state in ME/CFS, the aim of this study was to examine whether inflammatory and CMI biomarkers are increased in individuals with ME/CFS.


In this study we therefore measured plasma interleukin-(IL)1, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α, and PMN-elastase, and serum neopterin and lysozyme in 107 patients with ME/CFS, 37 patients with chronic fatigue (CF), and 20 normal controls. The severity of ME/CFS was measured with the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (FF) Rating Scale.


Serum IL-1, TNFα, neopterin and lysozyme are significantly higher in patients with ME/CFS than in controls and CF patients. Plasma PMN-elastase is significantly higher in patients with ME/CFS than in controls and CF patients and higher in the latter than in controls. Increased IL-1 and TNFα are significantly correlated with fatigue, sadness, autonomic symptoms, and a flu-like malaise; neopterin is correlated with fatigue, autonomic symptoms, and a flu-like malaise; and increased PMN-elastase is correlated with concentration difficulties, failing memory and a subjective experience of infection.


The findings show that ME/CFS is characterized by low-grade inflammation and activation of CMI. The results suggest that characteristic symptoms of ME/CFS, such as fatigue, autonomic symptoms and a flu-like malaise, may be caused by inflammatory mediators, e.g. IL-1 and TNFα.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center