Pathophysiological underpinnings of the development of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) are still poorly understood, according to Leonard A. Jason, a DePaul University psychology professor who has studied chronic fatigue syndrome primarily in adults for the past 30 years.
"We need to know what causes one of the most debilitating health conditions, which is ME/CFS. The best way to figure this out is to identify healthy individuals and then observe what occurs when they are infected with something that might be triggering the disease, such as a virus, like Epstein-Barr virus, the cause of infectious mononucleosis, then to see who recovers and who does not and why," said Jason, a principal investigator of a new five-year, $2.8 million study funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, one of the National Institutes of Health.
This study may help identify risk factors that make certain individuals more likely to develop ME/CFS after an infection and may provide additional insights into biological causes of this debilitating disease." Vicky Whittemore, program director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
One aim of the new study is to assess the natural history of and risk factors for the maintenance of ME/CFS following infectious mononucleosis (IM).
"Psychological, autonomic, and biological risk factors predispose people to developing ME/CFS following IM. We will determine which of these factors, if any, is also important for maintaining ME/CFS over time," noted Jason, director of the Center for Community Research in DePaul's College of Science and Health.
Working with Jason as co-principal investigator is Dr. Ben Z. Katz, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Katz is also a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has collaborated with Jason and his group since the late 1990s and has identified the incidence of chronic fatigue syndrome following infectious mononucleosis in adolescents.
Jason and Katz have considerable experience with and helped develop the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke common data elements for ME/CFS. Their work together has been able to launch a series of NIH-supported epidemiologic and prospective studies. Related Stories
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