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Dr Neil Harrison interview: ME & inflammation (ME/cvs Vereniging)

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by mango, May 6, 2016.

  1. mango

    mango Senior Member

    79. ME & inflammation, part 1 / ME & inflammatie, deel 1 - Dr Harrison (7:33 min)
    Wetenschap voor Patienten - ME/cvs Vereniging

    Below is a transcript written by Russell Fleming on Twitter :) Many thanks, very helpful! :hug:

    (The text has been slightly reformatted for better readability.)

    Russell writes:

    Inflammation, the brain, and ME/CFS with Dr Neil Harrison: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4br0X7CJE0

    As I'd forgotten who Dr. Harrison was, I thought I'd begin this transcript of an interesting interview, with a recap. #MECFS

    Dr. Harrison is also involved with a new MRC-funded study announced last year at the #CMRC conference to be led by Dr. Mark Edwards which will use functional neuroimaging to try and discover what's causing or contributing to post-exertional malaise in #MECFS.

    You can read more about the neuroimaging and PEM study, here: http://www.meassociation.org.uk/201...es-new-neuroimaging-research-16-october-2015/

    Right. Back to the interview with Dr. Neil Harrison on Inflammation, the brain, and ME/CFS. I am skipping the first answer as it's general.

    "If there's inflammation within a particular organ in the body it becomes more difficult to use that organ." Dr. Harrison.

    General effects of inflammation on the brain and relation to feelings of fatigue: "Inflammation also has quite a large number of different effects on the brain. Perhaps one of the most obvious and one that has been known about for many years, is that when we get an infection, our body-temperature increases and that is an effect that is governed by an effect of inflammation on the brain." Dr Harrison.

    "So, the hypothalamus - a particular part of the brain that regulates body temperature - senses inflammation (proteins enduced by the immune-system) and resets our body temperature to a slightly higher level. Inflammation also has a number of other actions on the brain for example, a reduction in appetite and reduction in desire to drink, are also effects that are controlled to some degree by the brain."

    "Inflammation also has a number of other very interested effects on our behaviour. When we become inflammed, we typically experience a slight reduction in mood, perhaps even a degree of irritability, and things like subjective feelings of fatigue, difficulty concentrating difficulty focusing and also, a slight reduction in our memory performance.

    Inflammation can also impair our social behaviours, we tend to isolate ourselves more if we become infected and inflammed and don't want to socialise or perform more novelty-seeking behaviours."

    "So these symptoms in a cluster are known as 'sickness behaviours' and we all experience them whenever we get any type of infection like the flu for example." Dr Harrison.

    Different responses to an inflammation in M.E.: "I think this is a very interesting question and currently I think the answer to that is poorly understood and is something we are currently looking at. So the question is, if somebody with M.E. responds differently to an inflammatory challenge than somebody who doesn't have M.E.

    I think there could be a few different answers to this and this is what we are currently looking at, but one could be that perhaps people with M.E. have a more aggressive inflammatory response to an inflammatory challenge in the blood or in the periphery; or it could be their response is exactly the same as somebody who doesn't have M.E. and then the question would arise, well are there differences in the way their brain processes that inflammatory challenge.

    So, for example, does their brain respond more aggressively or in a greater manner to an inflammatory challenge than in somebody who doesn't have M.E.."

    "There is no answer at the moment but hopefully there will be within the next year or 2 when we look specifically at this question." #MECFS

    Different effects of inflammation: "Do all infections have the same effects - on the body and on the brain? Again, this is an area of emerging research but looking at our own research and that of other groups, there do seem to be some differences in the way that, for example, viral infection or bacterial infections or models of these different types of infections affect the brain.

    Currently it is quite unclear why this is the case, but it seems that some of the proteins that are activated by the different types of infections may have slightly different effects on the brain. So, again, this is something we are currently researching, really trying to address are particular parts of the brain more sensitive to some types of infection or inflammation, compared to others." Dr. Neil Harrison.

    Interferon: "Interferon is a cytokine, it's a protein that our bodies naturally produce whenever we become infected - in particular when we become infected by viruses. There are a number of different types of interferon but one that is particularly interesting is interferon alpha and this is also used therapeutically to help treat patients with chronic hepatitis C.

    If it is used in combination with other drugs it can actually cure quite a high percentage. However, what it also does is enduces quite severe cognitive and mood change when it is given to patients. And perhaps 1 in 4 to 1 in 3 patients who are given interferon alpha develops depression.

    So it is very clear that activating the immune system with interferon, we can induce depression, severe fatigue and a number of other cognitive difficulties in previously relatively healthy individuals.

    And just on this point, another interesting phenomenon is that these patients who are treated with interferon - even though their hepatitis C may be cured - there is a percentage of them who go on to experience #ChronicFatigue and chronic cognitive impairment EVEN after the treatment has finished.

    Potentially this is a very good model to use to look at the long term effects of activating the immune system. Why is it that symptoms of fatigue and cognitive impairment persist even when the immune activation ceases?" Dr Neil Harrison.

    Note: Talking of interferon and this model of persistance, I am reminded of one of the MRC-funded studies led by @ParianteSPILab which according to the summary provided at the time was scheduled to complete in February 2015, but about which I have heard nothing. The study was titled: Persistent Fatigue Induced by Interferon-alpha: A New Immunological Model for #ChronicFatigueSyndrome: http://www.mrc.ac.uk/documents/pdf/cfsme-current-projects/

    I'm hoping the study is complete and the paper is now being written ahead of publication. I'm certainly looking forward to it and to hearing more from Dr Mark Edwards and Dr Neil Harrison. Great stuff. Many thanks @MEcvsVereniging a very enjoyable interview. #MECFS

    Russell Fleming on Twitter
    Theodore, u&iraok, Simon and 5 others like this.

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