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18 september 2012 - 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

[Source: mBio, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

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 

Harvey J. Altera, Judy A. Mikovitsb, William M. Switzerc, Francis W. Ruscettid, Shyh-Ching Loe, Nancy Klimasf,g, Anthony L. Komaroffh, Jose G. Montoyai, Lucinda Batemanj, Susan Levinek, Daniel Petersonl, Bruce Levinm, Maureen R. Hansonn, Afia Genfio, Meera Bhato, HaoQiang Zhengc, Richard Wanga, Bingjie Lie, Guo-Chiuan Hunge, Li Ling Leen, Stephen Sameroffo, Walid Heneinec, John Coffinp, Mady Hornigo, and W. Ian Lipkino

Author Affiliations: Department of Transfusion Medicine, Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USAa; Mikovits Consulting, Oxnard, California, USAb; Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USAc; Cancer and Inflammation Program, Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research, Frederick, Maryland, USAd; Tissue Safety Laboratory, Office of Cellular, Tissue and Gene Therapies, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland, USAe; Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale Florida, USAf; Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Miami, Florida, USAg; Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USAh; Infectious Disease Clinic, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, USAi; Fatigue Consultation Clinic, Salt Lake City, Utah, USAj; Levine Clinic, New York, New York, USAk; Simmaron Research Institute, Incline Village, Nevada, USAl; Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University, New York, New York, USAm; Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USAn; Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York, New York, USAo; and Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USAp 

Address correspondence to W. Ian Lipkin, wil2001@columbia.edu. 

Editor Michael Buchmeier, University of California, Irvine 


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. 


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. 


H.J.A., J.A.M., and W.M.S. contributed equally to this work. 

Citation Alter HJ, et al. 2012. 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. mBio 3(5):e00266-12. doi:10.1128/mBio.00266-12. 

Received 1 August 2012 - Accepted 20 August 2012 - Published 18 September 2012 

Copyright © 2012 Alter et al. 

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