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SPECT Imaging Of The Brain: Comparison Of Findings In Patients With Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, AIDS Dementia Complex, And Major Unipolar Depression.

R. Schwartz, A. Komaroff, B. Garada, M. Gleit, T. Doolittle, D. Bates, R. Vasile, B. Holman
Published 1994 · Medicine

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OBJECTIVE Chronic fatigue syndrome is an illness of unknown origin that begins abruptly with a flulike state and has symptoms suggesting both a chronic viral encephalitis and an affective disorder. We compared single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scans of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome with those of patients with AIDS dementia complex and unipolar depression. SUBJECTS AND METHODS We used 99mTc-hexamethylpropyleneamine oxime to examine 45 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, 27 patients with AIDS dementia complex, and 14 patients with major unipolar depression. Scans of 38 healthy persons were used as controls. Comparison of regional defects between groups, as well as midcerebral uptake indexes (an objective measure of global radionuclide uptake), was performed by using analysis of variance with the Student-Newman-Keuls option. Correlation between the number of regional defects and the midcerebral uptake index was determined by using the Spearman rank-correlation test. RESULTS Patients with AIDS dementia complex had the largest number of defects (9.15 per patient) and healthy patients had the fewest defects (1.66 per patient). Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and depression had similar numbers of defects per patient (6.53 and 6.43, respectively). In all groups, defects were located predominantly in the frontal and temporal lobes. The midcerebral uptake index was found to be significantly lower (p < .002) in the patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (.667) and patients with AIDS dementia complex (.650) than in patients with major depression (.731) or healthy control subjects (.716). Also, a significant negative correlation was found between the number of defects and midcerebral uptake index in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS dementia complex, but not in depressed patients or control subjects. CONCLUSION These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that chronic fatigue syndrome may be due to a chronic viral encephalitis; clinical similarities between chronic fatigue syndrome and depression may be due to a similar distribution and number of defects in the two disorders.
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