Research | Can Epstein-Barr virus induce CFS as a Pavlov reflex of the immune system? | 16 July 2012

July 17, 2012

Journal of Biological Dynamics. 2012 Mar;6(2):740-62. Full text available.

Can persistent Epstein-Barr virus infection induce chronic fatigue syndrome as a Pavlov reflex of the immune response?

Agliari E, Barra A, Vidal KG, Guerra F.
a Dipartimento di Fisica, Università degli Studi di Parma, viale G.P. Usberti 7/A, 43100, Parma, Italy.


Chronic fatigue syndrome is a protracted illness condition (lasting even years) appearing with strong flu symptoms and systemic defiances by the immune system.

Here, by means of statistical mechanics techniques, we study the most widely accepted picture for its genesis, namely a persistent acute mononucleosis infection, and we show how such infection may drive the immune system towards an out-of-equilibrium metastable state displaying chronic activation of both humoral and cellular responses (a state of full inflammation without a direct 'causes-effect' reason).

By exploiting a bridge with a neural scenario, we mirror killer lymphocytes T(K) and B cells to neurons and helper lymphocytes
[Formula: see text] and [Formula: see text] to synapses, hence showing that the immune system may experience the Pavlov conditional reflex phenomenon: if the exposition to a stimulus (Epstein-Barr virus antigens) lasts for too long, strong internal correlations among B cells, killer lymphocyte T(K) and T(H) may develop ultimately resulting in a persistent activation even though the stimulus itself is removed.

These outcomes are corroborated by several experimental findings.

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