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Ciba Found Symp. 1993;173:146-54; discussion 154-9.

Enteroviruses and postviral fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Neurology, University of Glasgow, UK.


Postviral fatigue syndrome (PFS) occurs both in epidemics and sporadically. Many of the original epidemics were related to poliomyelitis outbreaks which either preceded or followed them. The core clinical symptoms are always the same: severe fatigue made worse by exercise, myalgia, night sweats, atypical depression and excessive sleep. The other common symptoms include dysequilibrium disorders and irritable bowel syndrome. We have detected enteroviral genome sequences in muscle biopsies from cases of PFS, using specific enteroviral oligonucleotide primers in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In addition, whole virus particles can be demonstrated in PCR-positive muscle, using solid-phase immuno-electron microscopy. An increase in the number and size of muscle mitochondria was found in 70% of PFS cases, suggesting an abnormality in metabolic function. Evidence of hypothalamic dysfunction was present, particularly involving 5-hydroxytryptamine metabolism. A putative model of PFS, based on persistent enteroviral infection in laboratory mice, revealed resolving inflammatory lesions in muscle with, however, a marked increase in the production of certain cytokines in the brain. This model may help to explain the pathogenesis of PFS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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