Peripheral blood gene expression in postinfective fatigue syndrome following from three different triggering infections

J Infect Dis. 2011 Nov 15;204(10):1632-40. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jir612. Epub 2011 Sep 29.


Background: Several infections trigger postinfective fatigue syndromes, which share key illness characteristics with each other and with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Previous cross-sectional case-control studies of CFS have suggested that unique gene expression signatures are evident in peripheral blood samples.

Methods: Peripheral blood transcriptomes in samples collected longitudinally, in 18 subjects with a fatigue syndrome lasting ≥ 6 months after acute infection due to Epstein-Barr virus, Ross River virus, or Coxiella burnetii (Q fever), and 18 matched control subjects who had recovered promptly, were studied by microarray (n = 127) and confirmatory quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Gene expression patterns associated with CFS were sought by univariate statistics and regression modeling.

Results: There were 23 genes with modest differential expression (0.6-2.3-fold change) in within-subject comparisons of early, symptomatic time points with late, recovered time points. There were modest differences found in 63 genes, either in cross-sectional comparison of cases and controls at 6 months after infection onset or in the regression model. There were 223 genes significantly correlated with individual symptom domains. Quantitative PCR confirmed 33 (73%) of 45 genes-none were consistent across cohorts.

Conclusions: Although the illness characteristics of patients with postinfective fatigue syndromes have more similarities than differences, no reliable peripheral blood gene expression correlate is evident.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alphavirus Infections / complications*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / genetics*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / virology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Q Fever / complications*
  • Ross River virus*
  • Young Adult