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There are good reasons for thinking that central nervous system pathology is important in ME/CFS, and some indications that inflammation of the brain (neuroinflammation) might be involved. However, proving the existence of neuroinflammation requires specific neuroimaging methods, and these had never been applied to ME/CFS patients – until Japanese researchers bit the bullet.
The team at Osaka City University in Japan, which has been studying ME/CFS for many years, have used PET imaging to try to obtain direct evidence of neuroinflammation. In essence, they measured the density of the ‘translocator protein’ (TSPO) produced when certain brain cells are activated – it’s the activation of these cells which indicates that inflammation is taking place. In this case, the brain cells were microglia (thought to be the main form of active immune defense in the central nervous system) and astrocytes (the…
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