The disease has stages, produces biomarkers in the blood, and could be the result of an infection-such as Epstein-Barr-when the immune system goes into overdrive for some time, says a research team from Columbia University.
The researchers took blood samples from 298 ME/CFS patients and compared them to samples taken from 348 healthy people. They discovered patterns in the blood of people who had suffered from fatigue for less than three years that were different from those in healthy people and in those who had ME for longer. Those who had ME for less than three years had high levels of cytokines, which are immune molecules that are a response to a viral infection.
The researchers think that an ME sufferer has an immune system that is on constant high alert, eventually causing fatigue, muscle pains, an inability to concentrate and headaches, all typical symptoms of ME.
(Source: Science Advances, 2015; doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1400121)