Sunday, November 1, 2009

A CFS/ME/FM Timeline - We Knew About A Retrovirus All Along!

The linkage of CFS/ME to a retrovirus is noting new and suspicion began to grow that it was the case in Fibromyalgia as well.  The first documented findings that a retrovirus might be responsible for CFS/ME surfaced around 1985. The timeline of findings begins in 1985.

  • 1985 - Four out of 5 samples sent by Dr. Dan Peterson from the Lake Tahoe Outbreak tested positive for an HTLV-1 like virus.  Incredible disruptions were noted in flow cytometry of peripheral mononuclear cells producing grossly unbalanced CD4/CD8 ratios - showing CD8 cell depletion.  Scatter patterns were also noted in the flow cytometry which were previously only seen in HIV/AIDS infections.
  • 1986 - Dr. Robert Gallo - the co-discoverer of the HIV virus remarked after analyzing blood samples from the Lake Tahoe outbreak the presence of HHV-6A, in a manner consistent with an opportunistic infection in HIV patients.
  • 1988 - MRI brain scans showed abnormalities similar to HIV cases.
  • 1991 - Dr. Elaine DeFreitas published her findings that genetic material of a virus similar to HTLV-I had been found in a similar proportion of patients to the current study at the Whittemore-Peterson Institute, though no virus had yet been isolated.
  • 1992 - The CDC and Dr. James Gow would go on to state that the findings of Dr. Elaine DeFreitas could not be replicated.
  • 1994 - The CDC dismissed further findings of immune disturbances such as high RNASE-L activity and CD8 depletion.
  • 1995 - Research began to surface in CDC and NIH funded studies about pain processing abnormalities in Fibromyalgia - notably elevated substance P, and high Glutamate.  These studies would lead researchers to look for a neurological cause - leading to the theory that the "Volume control" is turned up too high in the brain's pain processing areas - something that certain cytokines are shown to do.
  • 1997 - Up-regulation of the RNASE-L pathway is demonstrated in another study.
  • 2001 - A study noted the shift in redox state in CFS patients just like in HIV.  The Redox shift leads to P450 decoupling from NADPH depletion, perhaps explaining the multiple drug and environmental sensitivities CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia patients experience.  Of note is the Cytochrome P450 enzymes are responsible for detoxifying drugs and environmental toxins.
  • 2007 - The XMRV virus is discovered for the first time in humans in Prostrate Cancer patients who have a rare genetic mutation.
  • 2009 - The Whittemore-Peterson publishes the discovery of XMRV as a likely cause of ME/CFS, showing the virus able to replicate and infect healthy blood cells.


  1. Now if we can just find a cure for ME/CFS!

  2. I think that because XMRV is a slow virus, a 2-3 month course of anti-retroviral therapy might allow the immune system to recover enough to keep XMRV in check. That would be an excellent first step. However this is not a cure, and latent XMRV could become re-activated if the immune system is presented with a major challenge ie:: influenza, surgery, major stress.

  3. I appreciate all of the information that you have shared. Thank you for the hard work!
    rnase inhibitor is an acidic, 52 kDa protein that is a potent non-competitive inhibitor of pancreatic-type ribonucleases such as RNase A, RNase B, and RNase C.