BACK TO BASICS
It's been three years since replicated science proved that CFIDS/ME was an autoimmune disease (Hokama et al). What is an autoimmune disease? Well, most of us know that the definition of autoimmune is when "the body attacks itself" but that doesn't really begin to describe what is really going on. Autoimmune diseaeses are much more than mere inflammation that makes the body attack itself. The immune system mistakes one part of the body as an enemy pathogen and that's why it attacks itself.
An autoimmune disease happens when the body is exposed to some sort of toxin. It can happen because of something you ate, something you drank or even something in the air you were breathing that causes immune dysfunction.
Autoimmunity naturally occurs in everybody to some extent but when the body breaks down an internal safety mechanism of the body, the body mistakes itself as an enemy. Even though many will tell you that it has a lot to do with your own genetic makeup, that's something that has never been proven. For example, a study was done on identical twins where one had multiple sclerosis. The genetically identical twin, they found to their surprise, only had a 30% chance of getting MS as well! A similar study was done on Lupus patients and rhuematoid arthritis and genetics did not guarantee that one would develop an autoimmune disease. Why? They weren't both exposed to whatever the cause turns out to be! There isn't an exact cause known for any autoimmune disease although researchers, for many years, have pointed to manmade toxins in our environment that seem to be the cause. Indentifying the exact culprit will expose a target to attack.
The immune system requires balance in order to properly function. The T cells help regulate a response to any foreign invader in the body. And, in CFIDS/ME, it was proven years ago that there was an abnormality of the T cells and the B cells. B-cells are immune cells that are responsible for fighting infections and providing long-term immunity and it was proven years ago that certain B cells were abnormal in CFIDS/ME (CD4, CD8: Klimas) which is why one physician from the NIH suggested patients not use the term of "CFS", that the CDC foisted upon us, but to call it CFIDS.
The T cells (Th 1 and Th 2) make a protein that is known as cytokines and, among many other things, cytokines cause fatigue! And they interfere with sleep patterns. That part, too, has already been proven in CFIDS/ME (Moldofsky) and are what causes what people say "brain fog" that is really cognitive dysfunction. It was also known that more women than men get CFIDS/ME but that is something that happens in all autoimmune diseases with few exceptions and that isn't even limited to human beings.
What is the difference between one autoimmune disease and another? Each one is categorized according to where in the body the cytokines attack. One well known example is rheumatoid arthritis that attacks the joints and causes pain. Autoimmunity is really one disease that comes in many different forms but cytokines are always the culprit. You can block the overproduction of the cytokines with immosuppressive drugs such as steroids but those will also suppress the already underactive portion of the immune system which is why most physicians do not recommend that avenue.
Why do we still hear so-called CFIDS/ME "specialists" say the disease reacts like an autoimmune disease when that has already been proven? History teaches us that new scientific facts are slow to be recognized and learned. The symptoms of all autoimmune diseases have symptoms in common but the symptoms depend upon the person's own immune system as well as the disease. Most share anxiety, gastrointestinal problems, dizziness, high body temperatures, extreme sensitivity to cold in the hands and feet, fatigue, reduced sex drive, inflammation, irritability, low or high blood pressure, weakness and/or stiffness in the muscels and the joints and weight change. When the carefully replicated scientific paper was published that found a biomarker for autoimmune diseases in 2008, it listed prostate cancer and Gulf War Syndrome in the title yet, if you take a look at the list of autoimmune diseases* on the website of the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (www.aarda.org), you'll see that neither are listed and "CFS" is stated not to be a real autoimmune disease. You won't find that important scientific fact on the website of the International Association for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (IACFS), either. Just this past June, a medical article was published in the journal Autoimmunity (44/4) from researchers from the University of Massachusetts Medical School describing immunopathology. They reviewed the evidence and named some autoimmune diseases along with some "where the immune system appears dysregulated..even chronic fatigue syndrome" which shows they are unaware of the research already done.
New science on autoimmune diseases was just published this past August from National Jewish Health who discovered a type of cell that seems to contribute to autoimmune diseases. A previously unknown type of B cell, CD11c, are much more prevelant in females than in males which could finally lead to answers as to why more females fall victim to all autoimmune diseases than do males. The lead author of the paper, Anatoly V. Robtsov, PhD, explained, "Not only do these cells appear more frequently in females, their activation depends on a gene of which women have two copies and men only one."
Because the National CFIDS Foundation does not want to continue as a 501 (c) 3 charity, we believe that our carefully designated scientific funding will actually prove the cause of the very first autoimmune disease: CFIDS/ME. Being all patients along with a smattering of caregivers, our motivation remains unparalled. We've put aside our egos to work toward replicated and truthful scientific fact.
[Ed. Note: The website of the AARDA has since taken down their list of autoimmune diseases.]
The National CFIDS Foundation * 103 Aletha Rd, Needham Ma 02492 *(781) 449-3535 Fax (781) 449-8606