Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating disease characterized by severe, unexplained fatigue and postexertional exacerbation of symptoms. We examined basal endocrine function in a group of CFS patients and a carefully matched group of sedentary controls. The subjects then completed a graded, maximal exercise test on a treadmill, and additional blood samples were drawn 4 min and a day after the end of exercise. There were no differences in basal hormone levels before exercise. Plasma adrenocorticotropin, epinephrine, prolactin and thyrotropin responses 4 min after exercise were lower in the CFS group, but the growth hormone response may have been exaggerated, and the plasma norepinephrine response was similar to that in controls. The next day, there were no differences in hormone levels between the groups, which suggests that long-term changes in endocrine function are unlikely to be a cause of the prolonged fatigue that occurs in CFS patients after a bout of exertion.
Copyright 2001 S. Karger AG, Basel