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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Lack of evidence for retroviral infections formerly related to chronic fatigue in Spanish Fibromyalgia patients

Elisa Oltra2*, María García-Escudero2, Armando Vicente Mena-Durán2, Vicente Monsalve2 and Germán Cerdá-Olmedo12

Author Affiliations

1 Cátedra Umivale en innovación e investigación en patologías del trabajo, C/Quevedo, 2, 46001 Valencia, Spain

2 Facultad de Medicina, C/Quevedo, 2, 46001 Valencia, Spain

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:332  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-332

Published: 11 November 2013

Abstract

Background

The etiology of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome (FM/CFS) is currently unknown. A recurrent viral infection is an attractive hypothesis repeatedly found in the literature since it would explain the persistent pain and tiredness these patients suffer from. The initial striking link of two distinct orphan retroviruses: the gamma retroviruses murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus and the delta retrovirus T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2) to chronic fatigue have not been confirmed to date.

Results

Genomic DNA (gDNA) from 75 fibromyalgia patients suffering from chronic fatigue and 79 age-matched local healthy controls were screened for the presence of MLV-related and HTLV-2 related proviral sequences. The XMRV env gene was amplified in 20% of samples tested (24% patients/15% healthy controls). Unexpectedly, no PCR amplifications from independent gDNA preparations of the same individuals were obtained. None of the positive samples showed presence of contaminating murine sequences previously reported by other investigators, neither contained additional regions of the virus making us conclude that the initial env amplification came from spurious air-driven amplicon contaminants. No specific HTLV-2 sequences were obtained at any time from any of the 154 quality-controlled gDNA preparations screened.

Conclusions

Previous associations between MLV-related or HTLV-2 retrovirus infection with chronic fatigue must be discarded. Thus, studies showing positive amplification of HTLV-2 sequences from chronic fatigue participants should be revised for possible undetected technical problems.

To avoid false positives of viral infection, not only extreme precautions should be taken when nested-PCR reactions are prepared and exhaustive foreign DNA contamination controls performed, but also consistent amplification of diverse regions of the virus in independent preparations from the same individual must be demanded.

The fact that our cohort of patients did not present evidence of any of the two types of retroviral infection formerly associated to chronic fatigue does not rule out the possibility that other viruses are involved in inciting or maintaining fibromyalgia and/or chronic fatigue conditions.

Keywords:
Fibromyalgia; Chronic fatigue; Murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related virus; Xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV); T-lymphotropic virus type 2 (HTLV-2)