Research hypothesis | post-XMRV, could there still be an overlapping infectious agent? | 1 December 2012

From Muscular Disorders, 1 December 2012.

Uvo Rovigatti
Department of Oncology, Transplantation and New Biomedical Technologies, University of Pisa Medical School, Pisa, Italy

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and Cancer Related Fatigue (CRF): two “fatigue” syndromes with overlapping symptoms and possibly related aetiologies


In July 2010, at the Muscle Fatigue Meeting, I presented an overview of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Cancer Related Fatigue, emphasizing a critical interpretation of the potential association between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Cancer Related Fatigue and a newly discovered retrovirus: Xenotropic Murine Related Virus.

Since this association was hotly debated at that time, I suggested at the Meeting that it was wrong and most likely due to the identification of the wrong virus culprit. Today, 20 months after the Meeting, the first part of our prediction has turned out to be correct, as Xenotropic Murine Related Virus was shown to be a laboratory-created artefact.

Still, the potential association of fatigue-syndromes with an infection (most likely viral) is sustained by a plethora of evidence and this overview will initially summarize data suggesting prior viral infection(s). The principal hypothesized mechanisms for both peripheral and central Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Cancer Related Fatigue will be then summarized, also indicating plausible associations and triggering factors.

All evidence accrued so far suggests that further research work should be performed in this interesting area and in order to identify an infectious agent for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Cancer Related Fatigue. One candidate RNA virus, Micro-Foci inducing Virus, will be described in this overview.

MEA note: Our medical adviser, Dr Charles Shepherd, writes: “I know that some people do not agree but this paper supports the view taken by both the MEA and the MRC Expert Group that studies involving people with other illnesses that have either significant central (brain) fatigue or peripheral (muscle) fatigue have to form PART of our research portfolio because there may well be overlapping mechanisms involved.


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