Neuroendocrine Abnormalities in CFS Deserve More Comprehensive Study
Scientific panel issues consensus statement on research issues
Renee Brehio, CFIDS Association of America, April 23, 2001
WASHINGTON, DC-Research on the neuroendocrine system, which involves interactions between the brain and glands that secrete hormones, could help explain many of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). This was one conclusion reached by a panel of experts that convened in March for the second in a series of scientific symposia on CFS. The symposium was sponsored by The Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome (CFIDS) Association of America and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Several studies have suggested a neuroendocrine component to CFS, but the exact role these abnormalities play is still a mystery. For example, studies have found that some CFS patients have low levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis that plays a key role in sleep and fatigue, but more recent research has not confirmed those findings.
"CFS is a multisystem disorder, and needs a multidisciplinary approach," said Dimitris Papanicolaou, MD, assistant professor of medicine, Emory University, and panel chair. "Researchers from diverse areas of study need to collaborate to answer questions about neuroendocrine involvement in CFS and drive treatment strategies to improve patients' daily lives."
Following a day of presentations by experts from around the world, an independent panel composed of researchers and practitioners in the fields of biostatistics, endocrinology, epidemiology, immunology, internal medicine, neurology, psychiatry, and sleep disorders developed a consensus statement on the key issues surrounding the role of the neuroendocrine system in CFS.
The panel agreed that:
The CFS assessment symposia series is designed to examine the role of the neurological, endocrine, circulatory, and immune systems in CFS. The symposia gather experts to evaluate research findings, identify the most promising next steps for research, define research and funding priorities, and create research collaboration teams.
The CFIDS Association of America, which developed the symposia series, is the nation's leading organization working to conquer this illness. Since 1987, the Association has invested nearly $12 million in education, public policy, and research programs in its efforts to bring an end to the suffering caused by CFS.
The CDC protects people's health and safety by preventing and controlling diseases and injuries, enhances health decisions by providing credible information on critical health issues, and promotes healthy living through strong partnerships with local, national, and international organizations. The agency conducts a CFS research program under the auspices of the National Center for Infectious Diseases.
CFS, also called chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction syndrome (CFIDS), is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue, pain, and cognitive problems that are not improved by bed rest and may be worsened by physical or mental activity. For more information, call 1-800-442-3437 or visit www.cfids.org.
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