Plasma cytokine fluctuations over time in healthy controls and patients with fibromyalgia

Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2009 Feb;234(2):232-40. doi: 10.3181/0808-RM-254. Epub 2008 Dec 8.


We examined the pattern of cytokine secretion across the 24-hr day for women with widespread pain and tenderness having the diagnosis of fibromyalgia (FM) and matched healthy controls. Subjects were given time to habituate to being in a clinical research laboratory environment and then were sampled for cytokines without their being disturbed for a 24-hr period including an 8-hr sleep period. Cytokine levels were uniformly low but characterized by bursts of secretion. Bursting occurred either in singlets or in doublets with a range from 88 to 131 mins between doublet bursts. There was an element of synchronization of these bursts with most occurring at the beginning of sampling. FM patients showed a shift to increased IL-10 in the nighttime compared to controls. The relation between this anti-inflammatory cytokine to the pro-inflammatory cytokines studied also differed between groups: FM patients showed an increased ratio of IL-10 burst amplitude to that of pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1beta, IL-8, and TNF-alpha. We interpret this to indicate a skew away from the normal balance favoring pro-inflammatory cytokines in controls toward one favoring an anti-inflammatory response in FM. These changes toward anti-inflammatory predominance in FM may explain their common complaint of disturbed sleep because these cytokines are known to disrupt sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / blood*
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Health
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Sleep
  • Time Factors


  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators