Competition for Glutathione Precursors Between the Immune System and the Skeletal Muscle: Pathogenesis of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
The chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is typically associated or follows a recognized or presumed infection. Abnormalities of both humoral and cellular immunity have been demonstrated in a substantial proportion of patients with CFS. The most consistent findings are of impaired lymphocyte responses to mitogen. As an antioxidant, glutathione (GSH) is essential for allowing the lymphocyte to express its full potential without being hampered by oxiradical accumulation. Hence, protracted challenge of the immunocytes may lead to cellular GSH depletion. Because GSH is also essential to aerobic muscular contraction, an undesirable competition for GSH precursors between the immune and muscular systems may develop. It is conceivable that the priority of the immune system for the survival of the host has drawn to this vital area the ever-diminishing GSH precursors, thus depriving the skeletal muscle of adequate GSH precursors to sustain a normal aerobic metabolism resulting in fatigue and eventually myalgia.