One Answer to the mysterious disease syndrome variously known as M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), or CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue and Immune Dysfunction Syndrome) may be found in a newly discovered condition called The Rnase-L Defect. I have M.E., and I have the Rnase-L Defect. Join me in the quest to learn more about this serious condition.

In 1995, Temple biochemist Robert Suhadolnik, Ph.D., discovered a new immune defect in the 2'-5'A Synthetate Antiviral Pathway. When the body confronts a virus, a biochemical process creates an enzyme called Rnase-L. Suhadolik discovered that patients from the Peterson-Cheney practice in Incline Village, NV, who had fallen ill with a mysterious, debilitating disease in the mid-1980s, did not have normal Rnase-L. Instead, they produced a half-sized RNase-L protein - when viewed using electronmicroscopy, the Rnase-L was literally blank for half the space. The same year, unaware of Dr. Suhadolnik's finding, two French researchers, Bernard Le Bleu and Catherine Bisbal, also discovered that patients with the same symptoms had defective Rnase-L. Instead of weighing 80 kDa like normal Rnase-L, it only weighed 37kDA - again, roughly half the normal size. This is where the name that is often used comes from: the 37kDA Rnase-L, or the low molecular weight (LMW) Rnase-L. Having the finding duplicated on the other side of the globe using a completely different method was a very strong sign that both Suhadolnik and the Le Bleu-Bisbal team had made a significant new scientific finding.

Patients with the RNase-L Defect overproduce normal Rnase-L, which then degrades into the 37kDa version. Research by Dr. Susan Horvath, at Temple with Suhadolnik, has shown that the in these patients, the 80kDA protein cleaves into three parts. The middle drops out, and the first and third parts bind into the new, 37kDA Rnase-L protein. This leads to several problems. The defective 37kDa protein leaves the body without its normal antiviral defenses. Patients suffer from the reactivation of viruses that should be dormant. In my own case, that has meant recurring bouts of Epstein-Barr, and a chronically active case of HHV-6, Variant A, when the 37kDa Rnase-L is not under control. There may be other chronically activated or reactivated viruses - these were the only two we ever tested for. Patients diagnosed with "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome" would actually have "Chronic Viral Re-activation Syndrome". Most doctors would not pick this up, because the usual test given is an antibody screen. Once you have had the virus, you will always test positive for the antibody screen. Hence, it is difficult to tell whether a patient currently has the virus or not, and it is difficult to distinguish between those who easily disposed of the virus years ago, and those who continue to fight it.

The "rogue" protein that drops out of the 80kDa when it degrades to 37kDa itself causes problems within the body. It can cause an up-regulated immune system that fights the wrong enemy, which would explain why many patients with this disease also suffer from such diseases as fibnromyalgia and Hashimoto's thyroiditis (I have both). Another problem that it causes has been named "channelopathy". Ion channel disruption has been known to cause, among other things, increased pain, night sweats, muscle weakness and vision problems.

For links to more information about Rnase-L Enzyme Dysfunction Disease, go to the R.E.D.D. page of the CFS-Phoenix website. Click here.

For testing in the United States, go to Redlabs in Nevada. For testing in Europe, go to Redlabs in Belgium.

This page was written by Mary Schweitzer. Feel free to send me an email about this subject if you wish.