Background: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Persian Gulf War Illness (PGI), and fibromyalgia are overlapping symptom complexes without objective markers or known pathophysiology. Neurological dysfunction is common. We assessed cerebrospinal fluid to find proteins that were differentially expressed in this CFS-spectrum of illnesses compared to control subjects.
Methods: Cerebrospinal fluid specimens from 10 CFS, 10 PGI, and 10 control subjects (50 mul/subject) were pooled into one sample per group (cohort 1). Cohort 2 of 12 control and 9 CFS subjects had their fluids (200 mul/subject) assessed individually. After trypsin digestion, peptides were analyzed by capillary chromatography, quadrupole-time-of-flight mass spectrometry, peptide sequencing, bioinformatic protein identification, and statistical analysis.
Results: Pooled CFS and PGI samples shared 20 proteins that were not detectable in the pooled control sample (cohort 1 CFS-related proteome). Multilogistic regression analysis (GLM) of cohort 2 detected 10 proteins that were shared by CFS individuals and the cohort 1 CFS-related proteome, but were not detected in control samples. Detection of >or=1 of a select set of 5 CFS-related proteins predicted CFS status with 80% concordance (logistic model). The proteins were alpha-1-macroglobulin, amyloid precursor-like protein 1, keratin 16, orosomucoid 2 and pigment epithelium-derived factor. Overall, 62 of 115 proteins were newly described.
Conclusion: This pilot study detected an identical set of central nervous system, innate immune and amyloidogenic proteins in cerebrospinal fluids from two independent cohorts of subjects with overlapping CFS, PGI and fibromyalgia. Although syndrome names and definitions were different, the proteome and presumed pathological mechanism(s) may be shared.