Article

Randomized clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy and safety of valganciclovir in a subset of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome

Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California
Journal of Medical Virology (Impact Factor: 2.22). 08/2013; DOI: 10.1002/jmv.23713
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT There is no known treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Little is known about its pathogenesis. Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have been proposed as infectious triggers. Thirty CFS patients with elevated IgG antibody titers against HHV-6 and EBV were randomized 2:1 to receive valganciclovir (VGCV) or placebo for 6 months in a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Clinical endpoints aimed at measuring physical and mental fatigue included the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20) and Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) scores, self-reported cognitive function, and physician-determined responder status. Biological endpoints included monocyte and neutrophil counts and cytokine levels. VGCV patients experienced a greater improvement by MFI-20 at 9 months from baseline compared to placebo patients but this difference was not statistically significant. However, statistically significant differences in trajectories between groups were observed in MFI-20 mental fatigue subscore (P = 0.039), FSS score (P = 0.006), and cognitive function (P = 0.025). VGCV patients experienced these improvements within the first 3 months and maintained that benefit over the remaining 9 months. Patients in the VGCV arm were 7.4 times more likely to be classified as responders (P = 0.029). In the VGCV arm, monocyte counts decreased (P < 0.001), neutrophil counts increased (P = 0.037) and cytokines were more likely to evolve towards a Th1-profile (P < 0.001). Viral IgG antibody titers did not differ between arms. VGCV may have clinical benefit in a subset of CFS patients independent of placebo effect, possibly mediated by immunomodulation and/or antiviral effect. Further investigation with longer treatment duration and a larger sample size is warranted. J. Med. Virol. 9999:1-9, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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    ABSTRACT: Although Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) are used interchangeably, the diagnostic criteria define two distinct clinical entities. Cognitive impairment, (muscle) weakness, circulatory disturbances, marked variability of symptoms, and, above all, post-exertional malaise: a long-lasting increase of symptoms after a minor exertion, are distinctive symptoms of ME. This latter phenomenon separates ME, a neuro-immune illness, from chronic fatigue (syndrome), other disorders and deconditioning. The introduction of the label, but more importantly the diagnostic criteria for CFS have generated much confusion, mostly because chronic fatigue is a subjective and ambiguous notion. CFS was redefined in 1994 into unexplained (persistent or relapsing) chronic fatigue, accompanied by at least four out of eight symptoms, e.g., headaches and unrefreshing sleep. Most of the research into ME and/or CFS in the last decades was based upon the multivalent CFS criteria, which define a heterogeneous patient group. Due to the fact that fatigue and other symptoms are non-discriminative, subjective experiences, research has been hampered. Various authors have questioned the physiological nature of the symptoms and qualified ME/CFS as somatization. However, various typical symptoms can be assessed objectively using standardized methods. Despite subjective and unclear criteria and measures, research has observed specific abnormalities in ME/CFS repetitively, e.g., immunological abnormalities, oxidative and nitrosative stress, neurological anomalies, circulatory deficits and mitochondrial dysfunction. However, to improve future research standards and patient care, it is crucial that patients with post-exertional malaise (ME) and patients without this odd phenomenon are acknowledged as separate clinical entities that the diagnosis of ME and CFS in research and clinical practice is based upon accurate criteria and an objective assessment of characteristic symptoms, as much as possible that well-defined clinical and biological subgroups of ME and CFS patients are investigated in more detail, and that patients are monitored before, during and after interventions with objective measures and biomarkers.
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