A variety of hormones and immune system processes are responsible for how the body responds
to illness. This study concentrates on how the hormone cortisol effects the release of
immune system factors called cytokines.
Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands as a response to stimulation from the
pituitary gland. Abnormal levels of cortisol have been seen in several diseases such as
depression and multiple sclerosis.
Cytokines are factors produced by certain white blood cells. They act by changing the cells
that produce them (autocrine effect), altering other cells close to them (paracrine), and
effecting cells throughout the body (endocrine effect). Cytokines are important in
controlling inflammation processes.
In this study researchers would like to determine if changes in levels of hormones in the
blood are associated with changes in cytokine levels. In addition, researchers would like
to learn more about how cytokines respond to hormones in certain diseases.
Many of the biochemical alterations observed in people suffering from major depression are
changes in the concentrations and activity of components of the generalized stress response.
These include the principal hypothalamic stimulus of pituitary-adrenal activation
(corticotropin releasing hormone) and the locus ceruleus/norepinephrine system. The current
study attempts to provide a clearer picture of the stability of changes during the acute
illness, the treatment phase and the recovery process. We particularly wish to determine
whether abnormalities in HPA axis perturbability in the well-state can be demonstrated, and
if so how these are related to the acutely-ill state, since this information could provide a
quantifiable phenotypic marker for depression.
Chronic fatigue patients.
Subjects must not have been treated with steroids for more than two weeks during the
Subjects must not be on chronic medications.
Subjects must not have known medical problems or any condition which interferes with their
immune system's ability to respond to infections (talk with your physician if you are not
sure about a particular situation).