Survey of Anti-Pathogen Antibody Levels in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Proteomes. 2022 Jun 13;10(2):21. doi: 10.3390/proteomes10020021.


Infectious pathogens are implicated in the etiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) because of the occurrence of outbreaks of the disease. While a number of different infectious agents have been associated with the onset of ME/CFS, the identity of a specific organism has been difficult to determine in individual cases. The aim of our study is to survey ME/CFS subjects for evidence of an infectious trigger and/or evidence of immune dysregulation via serological testing of plasma samples for antibodies to 122 different pathogen antigens. Immune profiles were compared to age-, sex-, and BMI-matched controls to provide a basis for comparison. Antibody levels to individual antigens surveyed in this study do not implicate any one of the pathogens in ME/CFS, nor do they rule out common pathogens that frequently infect the US population. However, our results revealed sex-based differences in steady-state humoral immunity, both within the ME/CFS cohort and when compared to trends seen in the healthy control cohort.

Keywords: ME/CFS; enterovirus; herpesvirus; immune response; plasma; serology; sex differences.