Poor sleep quality is associated with greater circulating pro-inflammatory cytokines and severity and frequency of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) symptoms in women

Published:December 13, 2016DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jneuroim.2016.12.008

      Highlights

      • Sleep quality, inflammation, and CFS/ME symptoms were analyzed.
      • Poor sleep quality predicted pro-inflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α.
      • Worse sleep quality related to greater fatigue severity and daily interference.
      • Worse sleep quality related to more severe and frequent CFS/ME symptoms.
      • Further research is needed to identify the etiology of sleep disruptions in CFS/ME.

      Abstract

      Objective

      Poor sleep quality has been linked to inflammatory processes and worse disease outcomes in the context of many chronic illnesses, but less is known in conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). This study examines the relationships between sleep quality, pro-inflammatory cytokines, and CFS/ME symptoms.

      Methods

      Sixty women diagnosed with CFS/ME were assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Fatigue Symptom Inventory (FSI) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-based CFS/ME symptom questionnaires. Circulating plasma pro-inflammatory cytokine levels were measured by ELISA. Multiple regression analyses examined associations between sleep, cytokines and symptoms, controlling for age, education, and body mass index.

      Results

      Poor sleep quality (PSQI global score) was associated with greater pro-inflammatory cytokine levels: interleukin-1β (IL-1β) (β = 0.258, p = 0.043), IL-6 (β = 0.281, p = 0.033), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) (β = 0.263, p = 0.044). Worse sleep quality related to greater fatigue severity (β = 0.395, p = 0.003) and fatigue-related interference with daily activities (β = 0.464, p < 0.001), and more severe and frequent CDC-defined core CFS/ME symptoms (β = 0.499, p < 0.001, and β = 0.556, p < 0.001, respectively).

      Conclusions

      Results underscore the importance of managing sleep-related difficulties in this patient population. Further research is needed to identify the etiology of sleep disruptions in CFS/ME and mechanistic factors linking sleep quality to symptom severity and inflammatory processes.

      Graphical abstract

      Keywords

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