Mycoplasma blood infection in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes

Rheumatol Int. 2003 Sep;23(5):211-5. doi: 10.1007/s00296-003-0355-7. Epub 2003 Jul 16.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) are characterised by a lack of consistent laboratory and clinical abnormalities. Although they are distinguishable as separate syndromes based on established criteria, a great number of patients are diagnosed with both. In studies using polymerase chain reaction methods, mycoplasma blood infection has been detected in about 50% of patients with CFS and/or FMS, including patients with Gulf War illnesses and symptoms that overlap with one or both syndromes. Such infection is detected in only about 10% of healthy individuals, significantly less than in patients. Most patients with CFS/FMS who have mycoplasma infection appear to recover and reach their pre-illness state after long-term antibiotic therapy with doxycycline, and the infection can not be detected after recovery. By means of causation and therapy, mycoplasma blood infection may permit a further subclassification of CFS and FMS. It is not clear whether mycoplasmas are associated with CFS/FMS as causal agents, cofactors, or opportunistic infections in patients with immune disturbances. Whether mycoplasma infection can be detected in about 50% of all patient populations with CFS and/or FMS is yet to be determined.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacteremia / complications*
  • Bacteremia / drug therapy
  • Doxycycline / therapeutic use
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / classification
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / complications*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Mycoplasma / isolation & purification*
  • Mycoplasma Infections / complications*
  • Mycoplasma Infections / diagnosis
  • Mycoplasma Infections / drug therapy
  • Persian Gulf Syndrome / complications*
  • Persian Gulf Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Doxycycline