Interleukin-1β, interleukin-1 receptor antagonist, and soluble interleukin-1 receptor type II secretion in chronic fatigue syndrome

Joseph G. Cannon, Jonathan B. Angel, Leslie W. Abad, Edouard Vannier, Maria D. Mileno, Laura Fagioli, Sheldon M. Wolff, Anthony L. Komaroff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Chronic fatigue syndrome is a condition that affects women in disproportionate numbers, and that is often exacerbated in the premenstrual period and following physical exertion. The signs and symptoms which include fatigue, myalgia, and low-grade fever, are similar to those experienced by patients infused with cytokines such as interleukin-I. The present study was carried out to test the hypotheses that (1) cellular secretion of interleukin-1β (IL-1β), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), and soluble interleukin-1 receptor type II (IL-1sRII) is abnormal in female CFS patients compared to age- and activity-matched controls; (2) that these abnormalities may be evident only at certain times in the menstrual cycle; and (3) that physical exertion (stepping up and down on a platform for 15 min) may accentuate differences between these groups. Isolated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy women, but not CFS patients, exhibited significant menstrual cycle-related differences in IL-1β secretion that were related to estradiol and progesterone levels (R2 = 0.65, P < 0.01). IL- 1Ra secretion for CFS patients was twofold higher than controls during the follicular phase (P = 0.023), but lutea]-phase levels were similar between groups. In both phases of the menstrual cycle, IL-1sRII release was significantly higher for CFS patients compared to controls (P = 0.0002). The only changes that might be attributable to exertion occurred in the control subjects during the follicular phase, who exhibited an increase in IL-1β secretion 48 hr after the stress (P = 0.020). These results suggest that an abnormality exists in IL 1β secretion in CFS patients that may be related to altered sensitivity to estradiol and progesterone. Furthermore, the increased release of IL-1Ra and sIL-1RII by cells from CFS patients is consistent with the hypothesis that CFS is associated with chronic, low-level activation of the immune system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Menstrual cycle
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • estradiol
  • interleukin-1
  • progestorone

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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