New cytokine researcher from Adelaide, Australia: Mike Musker [Interview]

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https://www.emerge.org.au/Blog/mikemusker

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Researcher Interview: Mike Musker

By Jason Murphy

Meet Mike Musker. A former mental health nurse who took the path less travelled, Musker, is now a scientist with some excellent research underway.

He works with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, and his research – including one major project near completion and another about to start - is definitively biological in approach. The nearly-finished study looked at 23 ME/CFS cases versus 12 controls, and sampled their blood in a very unusual way.

“We wanted to look at what’s happening in people’s blood in relation to ME/CFS,” Musker says. “Looking for biological causes, the biological basis of it.”

The sampling process was intensive. Patients were invited into the lab in the morning and seated in an enormous luxury recliner where they could read, snooze, and watch TV for eight hours. During that period, their blood was taken repeatedly, using a machine called an Edwards VAMP. The rarely-used but highly-promising device permits frequent blood tests without draining a patient completely, by returning blood that would otherwise be wasted to the patient after the sample is drawn. Each sample is just four milliliters.

“I placed a cannula in their arms at 9am and we took the first sample at 9am and we took a sample every seven minutes until 5pm. That was 69 samples across the day. We were then able to see the differences in the cytokines across the day.”

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ljimbo423

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This sounds intriguing but why would a poorly functioning inflammatory system cause high adrenaline?

It tracked three molecules of interest – interleukin-6, interleukin-1-beta, and leptin. The first two, Musker explains, are inflammatory markers.


“They were lower in people with ME/CFS,” he says, referring to interleukin-6 and interleukin-1-beta.

“In fact, they were hardly noticeable, whereas in the controls they were a reasonable value that we could read. That was quite clear.

That would indicate to me that people with chronic fatigue, their inflammatory system might not be responding like a normal person would. In other words, it’s almost switched off.

But if you are constantly under that adrenaline, your body stops listening to that message and you get chronic stress, I wonder if that’s what’s happening with chronic fatigue. That’s a theory I’m going to put forward.”
Interesting write-up @Murph
 

ljimbo423

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I think he meant it the other way around:

Activation of the sympathetic autonomic system (high adrenaline) suppresses the immune system, which means lower inflammation.
Thanks, that makes more sense.

I still don't understand the connections Mike is making in the last paragraph I quoted. How do you understand that last paragraph?
 
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Thanks, that makes more sense.

I still don't understand the connections Mike is making in the last paragraph I quoted. How do you understand that last paragraph?
I think the hypothesis here is immune system exhaustion. It is an exact quote but I'm not certain he intended the exact meaning. I think by adrenaline he means "stress" in a broad sense rather than the molecule adrenaline.