Abnormalities in response to vasopressin infusion in chronic fatigue syndrome
Several neuroendocrine studies have suggested hypoactivation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in chronic fatigue syndrome. One possible determinant of this neuroendocrine abnormality, as well as the primary symptom of fatigue, is reduced hypothalamic secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH). Because CRH and vasopressin secreted from the hypothalamus act synergistically at the pituitary to activate ACTH secretion, the ACTH response to peripheral infusion of vasopressin can provide an indirect measure of hypothalamic CRH secretion. We measured the ACTH and cortisol response to a one hour infusion of arginine vasopressin in 19 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and 19 age and sex matched healthy volunteers. Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome had a reduced ACTH response to the vasopressin infusion and a more rapid cortisol response to the infusion. These results provide further evidence of reduced hypothalamic CRH secretion in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.