Fatigue is one of the most challenging issues in MS clinical management. Although its origin is unknown, numerous studies have shown that dysfunction of the immune system is involved.
This hypothesis is based on the fact that fatigue is also common in many other chronic autoimmune diseases. And results from several studies suggest that increased levels of cytokines (molecules that promote inflammation) may be involved in MS-related fatigue.
Recent evidence has revealed that aerobic exercise can reduce MS-related fatigue.
Researchers from Spain are studying the mechanisms underlying fatigue and the impact of exercise on people with MS who became less fatigued after completing a training programme.
The researchers focused on interferon, a cytokine which is normally produced by the human body and which promotes inflammation.
The preliminary study on a small number of patients suggests that people with MS produce more interferon in their blood than healthy controls. Also, this interferon level seems to be correlated with increased fatigue. The study also shows that exercise could reduce patients’ blood interferon level and fatigue.
Further studies including more patients are needed to confirm the involvement of interferon and exercise on fatigue in MS.