New study finds virus not linked to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Jenny Decker RN's picture

In a fourth study investigating whether a viral link to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome exists, researchers from the Netherlands have found that the human retrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus, or XMRV, is not linked to CFS. In the study published on, lead researchers Professor Frank von Kuppeveld and Jos van der Meer reassured those with chronic fatigue syndrome that even though the connection between XMRV and CFS is most likely not there, further research down the road may show that the virus may indeed turn out to be important in the development of the disease.

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a debilitating disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. WebMD writes that there are no clear causes of CFS. Diagnosing the disease is difficult because there are no tests. There are many disorders that include some of the same symptoms, and so they are ruled out before a diagnosis of CFS is made. The main symptom of chronic fatigue syndrome is extreme fatigue that is present for at least 6 months.


Other signs and symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome include feeling exhausted for the majority of the time and not feeling rested or still feeling tired after waking up. You may have troubles with sleeping. Difficulty with thinking clearly or concentrating is a common symptom. Forgetting or not being able to remember is also a symptom. Headaches, joint pain, sore throat and tender glands in the neck and armpits are also common. Depression is often a symptom and it tends to make other symptoms worse. There is no cure and treatment is based on what the patient is experiencing.

The Netherlands study follows three other studies, two of which have similar findings. The first study was in the US and involved patients from an outbreak of CFS in the mid -1980s. This group was already linked to several other viruses, including XMRV. The results showed that 2/3 of the patients indeed had XMRV. This initial study showed a possible link, but it was not a conclusive study. Nonetheless, those with chronic fatigue syndrome were hopeful. Yet, in January 2010, a study in the United Kingdom investigated 186 patients with CFS and were unable to find XMRV in any of the patients. Earlier this month, another study involving 170 patients failed to identify the virus as well.

The study from the Netherlands used the DNA in blood cells of 32 Dutch patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. A control group of 43 healthy individuals was used as well. These two groups were then matched by age, sex, and geographical area. With 2 highly sensitive tests performed on 2 different target genes, no XMRV was detected in either the CFS group or the control group.

With research, the ability to repeat the same study and get the same results is extremely important in adding to science. Although a loss to the community of chronic fatigue sufferers, there is still hope. Researchers from the Imperial College London and the King’s College London stated in an accompanying editorial to the article published in the BMJ that currently there are several US labs that are studying any possible links between XMRV and CFS. They are “eagerly awaiting” results of those studies. To read the full story, go to



if most cfs patients have this virus showing up and your study is saying there is a connection....where does that leave us sufferers....what does the further research in england do for our not a doctor and dont understand alot of the medical terms....can you publish what hope it will bring us
CFS is definitely a very frustrating disease. I suffer from fibromyalgia, which is similar, if not the same. Some experts think it is the same, some do not. I am with you in wondering where these studies leave the people who are affected by this debilitating disease. The hope is there. It is hard to see because we see the studies saying there is not link to the virus. The proposed link to the virus has left hope because of the possibility of a cure. And the new studies say no, which dashes hopes. But the thing is, studies are continuing and researchers are not giving up so easily. Perhaps the XMRV virus played some part in a certain group of people. This suggests that somewhere it may have had something to do with CFS. A long shot, I know, but research often raises more questions than answers. Someday, we may find something.