Post-inflammatory fatigue in sarcoidosis: personality profiles, psychological symptoms and stress hormones

J Psychosom Res. 2012 Feb;72(2):97-102. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Objectives: Chronic fatigue following inflammatory diseases has been well documented. However, little is known about possible risk factors of chronic post-inflammatory fatigue. The aim of this study was to investigate whether chronic post-inflammatory fatigue after clinical remission of the disease sarcoidosis is associated with specific dimensions of personality, psychological symptoms and baseline levels of stress hormones.

Methods: Thirty-seven non-fatigued and 33 fatigued patients in clinical remission of sarcoidosis were evaluated with the Temperament and Character Inventory-short form (TCI); the Symptom CheckList-90 (SCL), and the Checklist Individual Strength (CIS). Baseline levels of ACTH and cortisol were measured in plasma. Principal component analysis with orthogonal rotation (varimax) was conducted on all personality, psychological and stress hormone data in order to obtain a smaller set of components. Logistic regression was performed to associate these components with chronic post-inflammatory fatigue.

Results: Principal component analyses identified 5 components, of which two components were significantly associated with chronic post-inflammatory fatigue. The first component comprised the personality trait Harm Avoidance and all SCL-subscales except Sleep. The second component consisted of baseline levels ACTH and cortisol, and showed an inverse association with chronic post-inflammatory fatigue. The 3 other components, consisting of respectively SCL-Sleep, TCI-Novelty Seeking-Reward Dependence-Self Transcendence, and TCI-Persistence, were not significantly associated with chronic fatigue.

Conclusion: Chronic post-inflammatory fatigue after clinical remission of sarcoidosis is associated with a triad of risk factors: a specific personality profile with profound neurotic characteristics in combination with high levels of psychological distress, and decreased baseline ACTH/cortisol levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone / blood*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Fatigue / blood
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Personality*
  • Psychometrics
  • Risk Factors
  • Sarcoidosis / blood
  • Sarcoidosis / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone
  • Hydrocortisone