Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating chronic disease of unknown aetiology that is recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC) as a disorder of the brain. The disease predominantly affects adults, with a peak age of onset of between 20 and 45 years with a female to male ratio of 3:1. Although the clinical features of the disease have been well established within diagnostic criteria, the diagnosis of ME/CFS is still of exclusion, meaning that other medical conditions must be ruled out. The pathophysiological mechanisms are unclear but the neuro-immuno-endocrinological pattern of CFS patients gleaned from various studies indicates that these three pillars may be the key point to understand the complexity of the disease. At the moment, there are no specific pharmacological therapies to treat the disease, but several studies' aims and therapeutic approaches have been described in order to benefit patients' prognosis, symptomatology relief, and the recovery of pre-existing function. This review presents a pathophysiological approach to understanding the essential concepts of ME/CFS, with an emphasis on the population, clinical, and genetic concepts associated with ME/CFS.
Keywords: Epstein Barr virus; biomarker; chronic fatigue syndrome; hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis; immunological; myalgic encephalomyelitis; neuroimmune.