Objectives: There is evidence that inflammatory, oxidative and nitrosative stress (IO&NS) pathways participate in the pathophysiology of a subgroup of patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Increased IgM-related autoimmune responses to oxidative specific epitopes (OSEs), including malondialdehyde (MDA), oleic acid and phosphatidyl inositol (Pi), and nitroso-(NO)-adducts, including NO-tryptophan (NOW), NO-arginine and NO-cysteinyl, are frequently observed in ME/CFS. Autoimmune responses in ME/CFS may be driven by increased bacterial translocation as measured by IgM and IgA responses to LPS of gram negative bacteria.
Methods: The aim of this study is to examine whether IgM responses to OSEs and NO-adducts are related to a better outcome as measured by the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Rating Scale (FF). 76 ME/CFS patients with initially abnormal autoimmune responses were treated with care-as-usual, including nutraceuticals with anti-IO&NS effects (NAIOS), such as L-carnitine, coenzyme Q10, taurine + lipoic acid, with or without curcumine + quercitine or N-acetyl-cysteine, zinc + glutamine.
Results: We found that use of these NAIOS was associated with highly significant reductions in initially increased IgM-mediated autoimmune responses to OSEs and NO-adducts. A greater reduction in autoimmune responses to OSEs during intake of these NAIOS was associated with a lower FF score. Reductions in IgM responses to oleic acid, MDA and Pi, but not in any of the NO-adducts, were associated with reductions in severity of illness. These associations remained significant after adjusting for possible effects of increased bacterial translocation (leaky gut).
Conclusions: Our results show that autoimmune responses to OSEs are involved in the pathophysiology of ME/CFS and that these pathways are a new drug target in a subgroup of ME/CFS patients. Although hypernitrosylation and nitrosative stress play a role in ME/CFS, reductions in these pathways are not associated with lowered severity of illness. Randomized controlled trials with NAIOS should be carried out in the subgroup of ME/CFS patients with initially increased autoimmune responses to OSEs.