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Plasma And Cerebrospinal Fluid Monoamine Metabolism In Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Preliminary Findings

M. Demitrack, P. Gold, J. Dale, D. Krahn, S. Straus
Published 1992 · Medicine

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The syndrome of chronic fatigue, feverishness, diffuse pains, and other constitutional complaints, often precipitated by an acute infectious illness and aggravated by physical and emotional stressors, has a lengthy history in the medical literature. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently formulated a case definition, renaming the illness "chronic fatigue syndrome." Nevertheless, there remain few biological data that can validate the existence of this syndrome as distinct from a wide variety of other, largely psychiatric disorders, and little understanding of its pathogenesis. In the present study, basal plasma and cerebrospinal fluid levels of the monoamine metabolites, 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylglycol (MHPG), 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA), and homovanillic acid (HVA) were determined in 19 patients meeting CDC research case criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome and in 17 normal individuals. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome showed a significant reduction in basal plasma levels of MHPG and a significant increase in basal plasma levels of 5-HIAA. Although the functional significance of these findings has not been definitively elucidated, they are compatible with the clinical presentation of a syndrome associated with chronic lethargy and fatigue, and with evidence of persistent immune stimulation, and lend support to the idea that chronic fatigue syndrome represents a clinical entity with potential biological specificity.
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