“The goal of this Request for Applications (RFA) from the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) and cosponsoring Institutes and Offices (IC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to solicit applications that support research on the neuroimmune mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis and pathophysiology of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and spectrum disorders in diverse groups and across the life span. Applications are encouraged from individuals who are part of multidisciplinary teams of scientists studying different aspects of CFS and its spectrum disorders. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome may be linked to dysregulation of at least two physiologic systems important for the maintenance of homeostasis: the central nervous system (CNS) (including the autonomic sympathetic system and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis [HPA]) and the immune system. Several mediators may contribute to dysregulation, including activated immune cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and others. Stress affects the activities of many of these mediators. Physiologic functions altered by stress and the ability to respond to stress likely play a role in the clinical manifestations of CFS. A variety of internal and external stressors lead to altered signaling in the central nervous and the immune systems. Whereas these changes are likely to contribute to or trigger disease symptomotology, they may obscure the original stressor initiating the event.
Research at a systems level is needed to develop an understanding of the potential interactions of neural and immune systems in the disease process and to determine how alterations in integrated physiological systems affect the progression and nature of CFS. The NIH is soliciting applications that 1) examine mediators influencing central control mechanisms and communication among interacting components of the nervous and immune systems 2) apply new tools to explore different aspects of the disease process, 3) elucidate the development of influences that may enhance disease susceptibility and contribute to mechanistic aspects of this disease and 4) identify predictive biomarkers for CFS and/or spectrum disorders. The NIH is interested in funding research that will improve the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of all persons with this disease, using the focus developed at the NIH sponsored CFS science workshop held in June 2003 “ Neuroimmune Mechanisms and Chronic fatigue Syndrome: Will Understanding Central Mechanisms Enhance the Search for Causes, Consequences, and Treatment of CFS?” This workshop summary is found at http://www4.od.nih.gov/orwh/CFS-newhome.html.