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Altered response to Toll-like receptor 4 activation in fibromyalgia: A low-dose, human experimental endotoxemia pilot study

Jones, C;Parkitny, L;Strath, L;Wagener, BM;Barker, A;Younger, J;

In this pilot study, a human intravenous injection of low-dose endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) model was used to test if fibromyalgia is associated with altered immune responses to Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) activation. Eight women with moderately-severe fibromyalgia and eight healthy women were administered LPS at 0.1 ng/kg in session one and 0.4 ng/kg in session two. Blood draws were collected hourly to characterize the immune response. The primary analytes of interest, leptin and fractalkine, were assayed via commercial radioimmunoassay and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits, respectively. Exploratory analyses were performed on 20 secreted cytokine assays by multiplex cytokine panels, collected hourly. Exploratory analyses were also performed on testosterone, estrogen, and cortisol levels, collected hourly. Additionally, standard clinical complete blood counts with differential (CBC-D) were collected before LPS administration and at the end of the session. The fibromyalgia group demonstrated enhanced leptin and suppressed fractalkine responses to LPS administration. In the exploratory analyses, the fibromyalgia group showed a lower release of IFN-?, CXCL10, IL-17A, and IL-12 and higher release of IL-15, TARC, MDC, and eotaxin than the healthy group. The results of this study suggest that fibromyalgia may involve an altered immune response to TLR4 activation.