A study, published last week in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, found abnormalities in the white blood cells of children with ME/CFS, which suggests they had been fighting some type of infection.
Study Methods and Results
This study looked at 25 children between the ages of seven and 14 who had been diagnosed with ME/CFS, along with a control group of 23 children who were similar in age. The researchers measured markers of oxidative stress and free radicals, C-reactive protein level, white blood cell apoptosis, and arterial wave reflection.
The two most significant findings from this study were:
- The children with ME/CFS has significantly higher levels of oxidative stress and higher than normal levels of free radicals.
- ME/CFS children had increased white blood cell apoptosis (programmed cell death). A significantly higher number of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells, were found to be at the end of their lifecycle, which indicates they may be fighting off a persistent or reactivating viral infection.
In the report's comments section, the researchers stated, “The data are also consistent with a reactivating or persistent viral infection triggering WBC apoptosis with an increased production of free radicals resulting from the consequent neutrophil respiratory burst. This is a particularly intriguing possibility given the recent report of a potential retroviral link to CFS/ME involving the novel xenotropic murine leukemia virus–related virus that could be detected in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells of 67% of US adult patients compared with 3.7% of controls.”
These findings are not too surprising in that they are consistent with other studies done on adults, although this is the first such study using children. I hope they will follow this up with a study that looks for XMRV or other murine leukemia virus-related viruses in both children and adults with increased white blood cell apoptosis.
Kennedy G, et al. Biochemical and Vascular Aspects of Pediatric Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(9):817-823.