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Allergy. 1996 Feb;51(2):124-7.

Eosinophil cationic protein serum levels and allergy in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Università di Roma La Sapienza, I Clinica Medica, Italy.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a syndrome of uncertain etiopathogenesis characterized by disabling fatigue associated with a variable number of somatic and/or neuropsychologic symptoms. In patients with CFS, several immunologic abnormalities can be detected, including a higher prevalance of allergy. The aim of this study was to determine whether CFS patients, well studied for their allergy profile, show signs of eosinophil activation, as detectable by the measurement in serum of eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) levels. In 35 consecutive CFS outpatients (diagnosis based on the Centers for Disease Control case definition), ECP was measured in serum by a competitive enzyme immunoassay (ECP-FEIA kit, Kabi Pharmacia Diagnostics, Uppsala, Sweden). Fourteen disease-free subjects with no history of CFS or allergy were selected as controls. ECP serum levels were significantly higher in CFS patients than in controls (18.0 +/- 11.3 micrograms/l vs 7.3 +/- 2.1 micrograms/l; P < 0.01). In the CFS population, the prevalence of RAST positivity to one or more allergens was 77%, while no control showed positive RAST. Twelve of the 14 CFS patients with increased ECP serum levels were RAST-positive. However, CFS RAST-positive patients had no significantly higher ECP serum levels than CFS RAST-negative patients (19.3 +/- 12.4 micrograms/l vs 13.6 +/- 3.7 micrograms/l; P = 0.4). This is the first report of increased serum levels of ECP in CFS. On the basis of the available data, it is discussed whether eosinophil activation has a pathogenetic role in CFS or is linked to the frequently associated allergic condition, or, finally, whether a common immunologic background may exist for both atopy and CFS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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