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Chronic fatigue syndrome: understanding a complex illness


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating illness that affects many people. It has been marred by controversy, from initial scepticism in the medical community about the existence of the condition itself to continuing disagreements — mainly between some patient advocacy groups on one side, and researchers and physicians on the other — about the name for the illness, its aetiology, its pathophysiology and the effectiveness of the few currently available treatments. The role of the CNS in the disease is central in many of these discussions. Nature Reviews Neuroscience asked four scientists involved in CFS research about their views on the condition, its causes and the future of research aimed at improving our understanding of this chronic illness.

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Members of the Trans-NIH ME/CFS Research Working Group, the Office of Research on Women's Health and the Institute Offices of Communications contributed to the responses by D.M.

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Correspondence to Stephen T. Holgate, Anthony L. Komaroff, Dennis Mangan or Simon Wessely.

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Competing interests

S.T.H. is Chair of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) CFS/ME Expert Group.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CFS homepage

UK Medical Research Council CFS/ME funding homepage

Trans-NIH ME/CFS Research Working Group

Simon Wessely's homepage

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Holgate, S., Komaroff, A., Mangan, D. et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome: understanding a complex illness. Nat Rev Neurosci 12, 539–544 (2011).

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