Autoantibodies to Vasoregulative G-Protein-Coupled Receptors Correlate with Symptom Severity, Autonomic Dysfunction and Disability in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

J Clin Med. 2021 Aug 19;10(16):3675. doi: 10.3390/jcm10163675.


Background: Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is an acquired complex disease with patients suffering from the cardinal symptoms of fatigue, post-exertional malaise (PEM), cognitive impairment, pain and autonomous dysfunction. ME/CFS is triggered by an infection in the majority of patients. Initial evidence for a potential role of natural regulatory autoantibodies (AAB) to beta-adrenergic (AdR) and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (M-AChR) in ME/CFS patients comes from a few studies.

Methods: Here, we analyzed the correlations of symptom severity with levels of AAB to vasoregulative AdR, AChR and Endothelin-1 type A and B (ETA/B) and Angiotensin II type 1 (AT1) receptor in a Berlin cohort of ME/CFS patients (n = 116) by ELISA. The severity of disease, symptoms and autonomic dysfunction were assessed by questionnaires.

Results: We found levels of most AABs significantly correlated with key symptoms of fatigue and muscle pain in patients with infection-triggered onset. The severity of cognitive impairment correlated with AT1-R- and ETA-R-AAB and severity of gastrointestinal symptoms with alpha1/2-AdR-AAB. In contrast, the patients with non-infection-triggered ME/CFS showed fewer and other correlations.

Conclusion: Correlations of specific AAB against G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) with symptoms provide evidence for a role of these AAB or respective receptor pathways in disease pathomechanism.

Keywords: G-protein-coupled receptor; adrenergic receptors; autoantibodies; autoimmunity; chronic fatigue syndrome; myalgic encephalomyelitis; vasoregulation.