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BMC Med. 2013 Mar 8;11:64. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-11-64.

A narrative review on the similarities and dissimilarities between myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and sickness behavior.

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1
Tir Na Nog, Bryn Road Seaside 87, Llanelli SA152LW, UK.

Abstract

It is of importance whether myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a variant of sickness behavior. The latter is induced by acute infections/injury being principally mediated through proinflammatory cytokines. Sickness is a beneficial behavioral response that serves to enhance recovery, conserves energy and plays a role in the resolution of inflammation. There are behavioral/symptomatic similarities (for example, fatigue, malaise, hyperalgesia) and dissimilarities (gastrointestinal symptoms, anorexia and weight loss) between sickness and ME/CFS. While sickness is an adaptive response induced by proinflammatory cytokines, ME/CFS is a chronic, disabling disorder, where the pathophysiology is related to activation of immunoinflammatory and oxidative pathways and autoimmune responses. While sickness behavior is a state of energy conservation, which plays a role in combating pathogens, ME/CFS is a chronic disease underpinned by a state of energy depletion. While sickness is an acute response to infection/injury, the trigger factors in ME/CFS are less well defined and encompass acute and chronic infections, as well as inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. It is concluded that sickness behavior and ME/CFS are two different conditions.

PMID:
23497361
PMCID:
PMC3751187
DOI:
10.1186/1741-7015-11-64
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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