Increased circulating fibronectin, depletion of natural IgM and heightened EBV, HSV-1 reactivation in ME/CFS and long COVID

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2023 Jun 29:2023.06.23.23291827. doi: 10.1101/2023.06.23.23291827.


Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ Chronic Fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex, debilitating, long-term illness without a diagnostic biomarker. ME/CFS patients share overlapping symptoms with long COVID patients, an observation which has strengthened the infectious origin hypothesis of ME/CFS. However, the exact sequence of events leading to disease development is largely unknown for both clinical conditions. Here we show antibody response to herpesvirus dUTPases, particularly to that of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and HSV-1, increased circulating fibronectin (FN1) levels in serum and depletion of natural IgM against fibronectin ((n)IgM-FN1) are common factors for both severe ME/CFS and long COVID. We provide evidence for herpesvirus dUTPases-mediated alterations in host cell cytoskeleton, mitochondrial dysfunction and OXPHOS. Our data show altered active immune complexes, immunoglobulin-mediated mitochondrial fragmentation as well as adaptive IgM production in ME/CFS patients. Our findings provide mechanistic insight into both ME/CFS and long COVID development. Finding of increased circulating FN1 and depletion of (n)IgM-FN1 as a biomarker for the severity of both ME/CFS and long COVID has an immediate implication in diagnostics and development of treatment modalities.

Keywords: (n)IgM; EBV; Fibronectin; HHV-6; HSV-1; ME/CFS; dUTPase; long COVID.

Publication types

  • Preprint