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.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Carruthers, B. M. et al. Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome: clinical working case definition, diagnostic and treatment protocols. J. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 11, 7–36 (2003).
Fukuda, K. et al. The chronic fatigue syndrome: a comprehensive approach to its definition and study. Ann. Intern. Med. 121, 953–959 (1994).
Sharpe, M. et al. A report — chronic fatigue syndrome: guidelines for research. J. R. Soc. Med. 84, 118–121 (1991).
Holmes GP. et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome: a working case definition. Ann. Intern. Med. 108, 387–389 (1988).
White, P. D. et al. Comparison of adaptive pacing therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, graded exercise therapy, and specialist medical care for chronic fatigue syndrome (PACE): a randomised trial. Lancet 377, 823–836 (2011).
Lombardi, V. C. et al. Detection of an infectious retrovirus, XMRV, in blood cells of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Science 326, 585–589 (2009).
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.
S.T.H. is Chair of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) CFS/ME Expert Group.
About this article
Cite this article
Holgate, S., Komaroff, A., Mangan, D. et al. Chronic fatigue syndrome: understanding a complex illness. Nat Rev Neurosci 12, 539–544 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn3087
Assessing diagnostic value of microRNAs from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and extracellular vesicles in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Scientific Reports (2020)
A SWATH-MS analysis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome peripheral blood mononuclear cell proteomes reveals mitochondrial dysfunction
Journal of Translational Medicine (2020)
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses (2020)
npj Digital Medicine (2020)