Cytokine network analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome


Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome is an unexplained debilitating disorder that is frequently associated with cognitive and motor dysfunction. We analyzed cerebrospinal fluid from 32 cases, 40 subjects with multiple sclerosis and 19 normal subjects frequency-matched for age and sex using a 51-plex cytokine assay. Group-specific differences were found for the majority of analytes with an increase in cases of CCL11 (eotaxin), a chemokine involved in eosinophil recruitment. Network analysis revealed an inverse relationship between interleukin 1 receptor antagonist and colony-stimulating factor 1, colony-stimulating factor 2 and interleukin 17F, without effects on interleukin 1α or interleukin 1β, suggesting a disturbance in interleukin 1 signaling. Our results indicate a markedly disturbed immune signature in the cerebrospinal fluid of cases that is consistent with immune activation in the central nervous system, and a shift toward an allergic or T helper type-2 pattern associated with autoimmunity.

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We are grateful for the support of the Chronic Fatigue Initiative/Hutchins Family Foundation and the Edward P Evans Foundation (WIL and MH). We appreciate the technical support of Wai Wong, Noel Pura and Shobun Baile.

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Correspondence to M Hornig.

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Hornig, M., Gottschalk, G., Peterson, D. et al. Cytokine network analysis of cerebrospinal fluid in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome. Mol Psychiatry 21, 261–269 (2016).

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