A multicenter blinded analysis indicates no association between chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis and either xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus or polytropic murine leukemia virus
Alter, H.J.; Mikovits, J.A.; Switzer, W.M.; Ruscetti, F.W.; Lo, S-Ching.; Klimas, N.; Komaroff, A.L.; Montoya, J.G.; Bateman, L.; Levine, S.; Peterson, D.; Levin, B.; Hanson, M.R.; Genfi, A.; Bhat, M.; Zheng, H.; Wang, R.; Li, B.; Hung, G-Chiuan.; Lee, L.Ling.; Sameroff, S.; Heneine, W.; Coffin, J.; Hornig, M.; Lipkin, W.Ian.
ISSN/ISBN: 2150-7511 PMID: 22991430 DOI: 10.1128/mbio.00266-12
The disabling disorder known as chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) has been linked in two independent studies to infection with xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) and polytropic murine leukemia virus (pMLV). Although the associations were not confirmed in subsequent studies by other investigators, patients continue to question the consensus of the scientific community in rejecting the validity of the association. Here we report blinded analysis of peripheral blood from a rigorously characterized, geographically diverse population of 147 patients with CFS/ME and 146 healthy subjects by the investigators describing the original association. This analysis reveals no evidence of either XMRV or pMLV infection. IMPORTANCE Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis has an estimated prevalence of 42/10,000 in the United States, with annual direct medical costs of $7 billion. Here, the original investigators who found XMRV and pMLV (polytropic murine leukemia virus) in blood of subjects with this disorder report that this association is not confirmed in a blinded analysis of samples from rigorously characterized subjects. The increasing frequency with which molecular methods are used for pathogen discovery poses new challenges to public health and support of science. It is imperative that strategies be developed to rapidly and coherently address discoveries so that they can be carried forward for translation to clinical medicine or abandoned to focus resource investment more productively. Our study provides a paradigm for pathogen dediscovery that may be helpful to others working in this field.