Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), or myalgic encephalomyeltitis (ME), is a severe and underestimated illness. The presence of symptoms like a sore throat, tender lymph nodes, and low-grade fever, as well as flu-like symptoms including widespread muscle pain and severe fatigue, has inspired researchers to search for immune abnormalities in patients with ME/CFS. Importantly, symptoms are often exacerbated during and after physical activities. The severe exacerbation of symptoms following exercise (‘post-exertional malaise’), as seen in ME/CFS patients, is one of the core features of the illness, and it differentiates people with ME/CFS from other chronic illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, depression or multiple sclerosis.
An increasing number of studies have examined how the immune system of patients with ME/CFS responds to exercise, and whether such immune responses to exercise explain post-exertional malaise. Pain in Motion, together with Lorna Paul from the University of Glasgow (Scotland, UK), has now reviewed all those studies, assessed their scientific quality, and summarized the main findings. Here are the main findings:
“Altered immune response to exercise in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyeltitis: A systematic literature review”
Nijs J, Nees A, Paul L, De Kooning M, Ickmans K, Meeus M, Van Oosterwijck J.
Exercise Immunology Review 2014;20:94-116.
SCI2013=9.929 - Q1 Sport sciences (1/81) & Q1 Immunology (9/144)
Further reading (full text available for free):