Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Elevated Cytokines Possibly Connected to Chronic Pain Symptoms


This excellent article was written by Frances Lee, and posted at Suite101.com:

Recent studies show that cytokines, chemical messengers that tell other immune cells to activate, grow or die may fuel autoimmune diseases such as fibromyalgia.

For the most part, cytokines benefit the immune system. They aid white blood cells to fight infection, bringing inflammation to an area of a wound to heal it. However, cytokines that go wrong can cause autoimmune diseases. They become elevated to the point where they alter how the immune system works.

Elevated Cytokines Cause Inflammation

Fibromyalgia has not been considered an inflammatory disorder; however, recent studies have shown the connection between the immune system, cytokine inflammation and pain physiology in this condition. Increased levels of certain inflammatory cytokines have been found in serum and skin biopsies of fibromyalgia patients, indicating inflammation of the nervous system or nervous tissue.

Inflammatory cytokines can cause a functional disturbance in the peripheral nervous system, inducing abnormal pain and increased pain sense. Although this inflammation starts within the body's immune system and cannot pass the blood brain barrier, studies have shown a cascade effect. The release of inflammatory cytokines in the body can lead to release of these within the brain and spinal cord.

Clinical Studies Reveal Antioxidants' Role in Reducing Inflammation

The Journal of Neuroscience reported on a study performed with aged control rats to determine whether the antioxidant capacity of food played a role in reducing inflammation in the cerebellum. The rats' cognitive abilities were first measured by electrophysiologic techniques revealing a significant decrease in function and then measured again after adding foods high in ORAC value.

Spirulina and apple, high in ORAC, reversed the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the brain. Cucumber, low in ORAC, had no effect. This study confirmed an important factor not only for brain dysfunction but all autoimmune diseases. There is a direct link to decreased inflammation and a diet rich in antioxidants.

Food That Decrease or Increase Inflammatory Cytokines

"Let your food be your medicine," said Hippocrates. Diet can be very helpful in managing fibromyalgia. Not only are there specific foods to include in your diet, but also foods to avoid. Studies done on those with food intolerances and food sensitivities show a marked increase in inflammatory cytokines.

Avoid or limit foods that increase inflammation such as: wheat, yeast, milk, sugar, peanuts, corn, eggs, citrus, alcohol, caffeine and soy.

Include foods, on a daily basis, that reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system such as: coldwater fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, sardines, cod, halibut), flax seed, evening primrose oil, borage oil, fresh pineapple, papaya, spinach, blueberries, strawberries and onions.

Additional Studies Behind Inflammatory Cytokines and Fibromyalgia

Studies have shown that lack of sleep, sleep apnea or other sleep problems can also raise cytokine levels. Research suggests that sleep is important to the immune system, fine tuning it to use cytokines, the body's chemical messengers, appropriately. The majority of those who suffer with fibromyalgia also have sleep problems. While some feel this could be the real reason behind fibromyalgia, other doctors feel sleep problems are the result of fibromyalgia. More studies are needed to determine if elevated cytokines come first or are secondary.

Read more at Suite101: A New Study in Fibromyalgia: Elevated Cytokines Possibly Connected to Fibromyalgia Symptoms http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/article.cfm/a-new-study-in-fibromyalgia#ixzz0heaGajYz

Read more at Suite101: A New Study in Fibromyalgia: Elevated Cytokines Possibly Connected to Fibromyalgia Symptoms http://autoimmunedisease.suite101.com/article.cfm/a-new-study-in-fibromyalgia#ixzz0heaGhm0z

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