Differential heat shock protein responses to strenuous standardized exercise in chronic fatigue syndrome patients and matched healthy controls

Anita A Thambirajah, Kenna Sleigh, H. Grant Stiver, Anthony W Chow

Abstract


Purpose: Since physical exertion is known to exacerbate the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and metabolic changes and including oxidative stress can modulate heat shock protein (HSP) expression responses, we sought to determine whether HSP expression is altered in CFS patients before and after exercise. Heat shock proteins (HSPs) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were examined from 6 chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) patients and 7 controls before and after a standardized treadmill exercise. Basal hsp27 was significantly higher among CFS patients compared to controls, and decreased immediately post-exercise, remaining below basal levels even at 7 days. A similar pattern was observed for HSP60, which gradually decreased in CFS patients but increased in controls post-exercise. These findings suggest an abnormal adaptive response to oxidative stress in CFS, and raise the possibility that HSP profiling may provide a more objective biologic marker for this illness.

Methods: HSP27, HSP60, HSP70 and HSP90 expression from 6 CFS patients and 7 age- and sex-matched controls were examined by western blot analysis of peripheral blood mononuclear cells immediately before, after, and at 1 day and 7 days following a standardized treadmill exercise.

Results: Basal HSP27 was higher among CFS patients than in controls (0.54 ± 0.13 vs. 0.19 ± 0.06, mean ± SEM; P < 0.01). In addition, these levels in CFS patients decreased immediately post-exercise (0.25 ± 0.09; P < 0.05) and remained below basal levels at day 1 post-exercises (0.18 ± 0.05; P < 0.05). P < 0.05). This declining expression of HSP27 during the post-exercise period among CFS patients was confirmed by one-way ANOVA analysis with repeated measures (P < 0.05). In contrast, HSP27 levels remained relatively constant following exercise among control subjects. Similar patterns of declining HSP levels in CFS patients were also observed for HSP60 (0.94 ± 0.40 vs. 1.32 ± 0.46; P < 0.05), and for HSP90 (0.34 ± 0.09 vs. 0.49 ± 0.10; P < 0.05) at day 7 post-exercise compared with basal levels, respectively. In contrast, HSP60 levels in control subjects increased at day 1 (1.09 ± 0.27) and day 7 (1.24 ± 0.50) post-exercise compared to corresponding levels immediately post-exercise (0.55 ± 0.06) (P < 0.05, respectively).

Conclusion: These preliminary findings suggest an abnormal or defective adaptive response to oxidative stress in CFS, and raise the possibility that HSP profiling may provide a more objective biologic marker for this illness.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25011/cim.v31i6.4917

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