1998 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

K. De Meirleir

Human Physiology and Medicine
Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Overview of Research on CFS in Belgium

Our Department has been involved in clinical research on CFS since 1990. We performed a number of studies related to the pathophysiology of CFS.

We have looked at 31 P MR Spectra of CFS/fibromyalgia patients and confirmed that there are subtle metabolic changes in the skeletal muscle at rest which cannot be explained by deconditioning alone. A second line of research has been immunophenotyping in CFS patients and comparing these with depression and primary fibromyalgia: the immune activation in CFS is different from other disorders, but non specific. A large cohort study comparing almost 200 CFS patients with matched healthy controls confirm that the exercise capacity of the patients is on the average about 50 % of what is normally expected and that this decrease cannot be explained by deconditioning; anaerobic exercise capacity seems to be seriously decreased in CFS.

In studies in collaboration with B. Fischler using brain spectscans, specific types of perfusion deficits were observed in CFS. Our work has also revealed that bronchial hyperreactivity should be added to the list of symptoms of CFS, as its prevalence is extremely high in this patient population. It could well account for the exertional dyspnoea in these patients. Finally in collaboration with a French scientific group we were able to demonstrate that a 2-5 A binding 37kDa RNaseL is a biochemical marker for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Since 1992 an open-label study with Ampligen in which more than 50 patients were enrolled has been conducted in Brussels, Belgium. Significant cognitive improvements were documented using the cognitive subscale of the SCL-90R and neuropsychological function tests.

Following 24 weeks of therapy a significant improvement as measured by Karnofsky Performance Score and exercise performance were observed.


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