Several causes have been held responsible for the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), including an altered hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland (HPA)-axis activity, viral infections and a reduced Th1 activity. Therefore, it was investigated whether the regulation of IL-10 is different in CFS. LPS-induced cytokine secretion in whole blood cultures showed a significant increase in IL-10 and a trend towards a decrease in IL-12 as compared with healthy controls. In patients and controls, IL-12 secretion was equally sensitive to suppression by dexamethasone, whereas IL-10 secretion appeared more sensitive in CFS-patients. In controls, IL-10 and IL-12 secretion were inversely correlated with free serum cortisol (r=-0.492, p<0.02 and r=-0.434, p<0.05, respectively). In CFS, such an inverse correlation was found for IL-12 (r=-0.611, p<0.02) but not for IL-10 (r=-0.341, ns). These data are suggestive for a disturbed glucocorticoid regulation of IL-10 in CFS.
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