A Role for the Intestinal Microbiota and Virome in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)?

Navena Navaneetharaja, Verity Griffiths, Tom Wileman, Simon Carding

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Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a heterogeneous disorder of significant societal impact that is proposed to involve both host and environmentally derived aetiologies that may be autoimmune in nature. Immune-related symptoms of at least moderate severity persisting for prolonged periods of time are common in ME/CFS patients and B cell depletion therapy is of significant therapeutic benefit. The origin of these symptoms and whether it is infectious or inflammatory in nature is not clear, with seeking evidence of acute or chronic virus infections contributing to the induction of autoimmune processes in ME/CFS being an area of recent interest. This article provides a comprehensive review of the current evidence supporting an infectious aetiology for ME/CFS leading us to propose the novel concept that the intestinal microbiota and in particular members of the virome are a source of the “infectious” trigger of the disease. Such an approach has the potential to identify disease biomarkers and influence therapeutics, providing much-needed approaches in preventing and managing a disease desperately in need of confronting.
Original languageEnglish
Article number55
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2016


  • myalgic encephalomyelitis
  • chronic fatigue syndrome
  • intestinal microbiota
  • dysbiosis
  • microbiome
  • virome

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