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Infectious Triggers and Mitochondrial Dysfunction in ME/CFS


Principal investigator:
Study start:
Completion (planned):
Not available
Last update:


Research types:
Basic research
Research areas:
Infections, Nutritional and metabolic system disorder
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Priv. Sector Partner:
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Project description

Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6), human herpesvirus 7 (HHV-8 and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) have all been implicated as potential infectious triggers of ME/CFS. One way in which viral infection may lead to the development of physical fatigue is through alterations to the mitochondria. The mitochondria are responsible for generating energy in the cells of the body, including in the skeletal muscles. An abnormality in energy production in muscle cells has been suggested as a possible cause of the muscle fatigue experienced by people with ME/CFS.

Viral infection will result in a protective immune response, but this immune response may also cause damage to the mitochondria. While there is evidence for this link, the exact mechanism involved is not known. And this is where Dr Prusty’s new study comes in. Dr Bhupesh Prusty is a well-established researcher at the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg, who has been particularly interested in human herpesviruses – specifically the mechanisms underlying the reactivation of these viruses, their impact on the mitochondria, and their potential role in diseases including ME/CFS. Dr Prusty’s hypothesis is that the changes to the mitochondria seen in people with ME/CFS may be due to a number of possible factors transferred in the blood plasma, and this has been backed up by some of his previous research.

The aim of Dr Prusty’s new study is to identify and characterise some of these factors in blood samples from ME/CFS patients and healthy control subjects, and to look at the potential effects of these factors on mitochondrial function. He also plans to look at how primary viral infections might cause reactivation of latent viruses. The results will hopefully lead to a better understanding of the mechanisms leading to mitochondrial dysfunction in ME/CFS, and may help in the development of new treatments.

(Description adapted from project website: see link above)

Patient cohort

ME/CFS compared with healthy controls.

Patients enrolled: Not available

Age group: Not available

Research areas (7)
Research types (2)
Research networks (0)
Working groups (1)
People (1)
Publications (0)
Organisations (1)

Research areas

Mitochondrial dysfunction
Mitochondrial diseases are conditions caused by abnormal function of the mitochondira. They may be caused by mutations, acquired or inherited, in mitochondrial DNA or in nuclear genes that code for mitochondrial components. They may also be the result of acquired mitochondria dysfunction due to adverse effects of drugs, infections, or other environmental causes. (Description adapted from: ...
Research projects:
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the type species of lymphocryptovirus, belonging to the subfamily of gammaherpesvirinae, infecting B-cells in humans. It is thought to be the causative agent of inectious mononucleosis (IM) and is strongly associated with oral hairy leukoplakia, burkitt lymphoma and other malignancies. IM is a common, acute infection usually caused by EBV. There is an increase in ...
Research projects:
Human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6)
Human Herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) is a member of the roseolovirus genus of the Betaherpesvirales subfamily isolated from patients with AIDS and other lymphoproliferateive disorders. It infects and replicates in fresh and established lines of hematopoietic cells and cells of neural origin. It also appears to alter the activity of NK cells. HHV-6 antibodies are elevated in patients with AIDS, Sjögre...
Research projects: