Neurotoxin Discovered in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Needham, MA November 17, 2002 -- Research sponsored by the National CFIDS Foundation was formally announced at the International Symposium on Toxins and Natural Products in Okinawa, Japan on November 17-19, 2002 by Dr. Yoshitsugi Hokama. The research, for the first time, discovered ciguatoxin, a potent neurotoxin, in the blood of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients.

"Chronic ciguatera poisoning has already been suggested as a scientific model for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)," stated Dr. Hokama. Ciguatoxins are potent, heat stabile, non-protein, lipophilic sodium channel activator toxins and are recognized as some of the most potent biological toxins known. They produce dramatic neurological manifestations, such as peripheral sensory or motor symptoms (including paresthesias, pain, burning, tingling, numbness), central symptoms such as headache, autonomic dysfunction and also affect multiple body systems (gastrointestinal, immune, hepatic, cardiovascular) and the muscles.

Many CFS patients in the study had higher levels of the toxin than the patients with cancer, hepatitis or acute ciguatera poisoning.

Quantitative assay results range from 1:5, the lowest toxin level, to 1:160, the highest toxin level. All CFS samples gave titres of at least 1:20, with the majority of titres from 1:40 to 1:160.

Dr. Hokama presented his preliminary findings in a lecture titled "Acute phase lipids in sera of various diseases: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, ciguatera, hepatitis, and various cancer with antigentic epitope resembling ciguatoxin as determined with Mab-CTX."

Dr. Hokama is a Professor in the Department of Pathology at the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is a world expert in the area of fish toxins with hundreds of peer reviewed publications to his credit. Hokama developed the Membrane Immunobead Assay test for patient sera, using a specific monoclonal antibody for ciguatera toxin (Mab-CTX). His current research into Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a ciguatera toxin connection was funded by the National CFIDS Foundation's research grant program.

Gail Kansky, President of the National CFIDS Foundation, said, "We believe this to be a significant breakthrough. CFS, which has come to include myalgic encephalomyelitis, is a very severe illness that has not received adequate funding or appropriate medical attention. Although there are still many unanswered questions and much work to be done, research efforts will ultimately turn the tide in the understanding of this disease and allow patients to receive appropriate medical therapies. We are indebted to Dr. Hokama and his colleagues for providing this monumental first step."

For more information on this study or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, please contact The National CFIDS Foundation.

Contact Information:
Gail Kansky 781-449-3535

Related Links:

Click here for the abstract of the presentation given by Dr. Yoshitsugi Hokama at the International Symposium on Toxins and Natural Products in Okinawa, Japan on November 17-19, 2002.

Click here for the full text of the Journal of Toxicology: Toxins Review (2003) paper titled "Chronic phase lipids" in sera of several chronic diseases reacting with MAb-CTX (antibody to ciguatoxin) by Y. Hokama et. al. (in the printable PDF file format).

Click here for the full text (publisher's PDF version) of Chronic phase lipids in sera of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), chronic ciguatera fish poisoning (CCFP), hepatitis B, and cancer with antigenic epitope resembling ciguatoxin, as assessed with MAb-CTX. Journal: J Clin Lab Anal. 2003;17(4):132-9. Authors: Hokama Y, Uto GA, Palafox NA, Enlander D, Jordan E, Cocchetto A.

Click here for the full text (PDF) of the Neurology of ciguatera article by Dr. John Pearn.  Click here for the text-only version.

Ciguatera Testing is Now Available! For information, click here.

Click here for Ciguatera Toxin FAQ.