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'Brain Fog' Study Shows Hidden Molecules In Cerebrospinal Fluid May Be To Blame

First Posted: Mar 31, 2015 08:14 PM EDT

New findings published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry have researchers uncovering the cause of "brain fog."

They believe it has something to due with a hidden unique pattern of molecules that can be found in cerebrospinal fluid of people dealing with encephalomyelitis, otherwise known as the syndrome.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health used immunoassary testing methods to measure levels of 51 immune biomarkers, or cytokines, via the cerebrospinal fluid of 32 people with ME/CFS for a period of just about seven years. They also looked at 40 patients who had suffered from multiple sclerosis and 19 healthy controls.

The team observed how the immune molecule interleukin 1 was depressed in those with ME/CFS when compared to the other two groups. Furthermore, the cytokine eotaxin was found to be elevated in those with both the ME/CFS and MS groups, but not in the control group.

"We now know that the same changes to the immune system that we recently reported in the blood of people with ME/CFS with long-standing disease are also present in the central nervous system," said Mady Hornig, professor of Epidemiology and director of translational research at the Center for Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School, in a news release. "These immune findings may contribute to symptoms in both the peripheral parts of the body and the brain, from muscle weakness to brain fog."

Findings reveal that human monoclonal antibodies may have something to do with the regulation of the immune response that could be used to treat certain conditions if proven safe. 

Furthermore, the diagnosis of the health issue is now based on more clinical criteria--offering hope of objective diagnostic tests for the disease, as well as a potential therapies to improve any existing imblanaces in cytokine levels. 

Statistics show that as many as 1 million Americans may deal with chronic brain fog. At this time, medical treatments range from sleep pills to antidepressants.

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