Objective: Although one of the current hypotheses of the aetiology of fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome involves inflammatory and neuroendocrine disorders, its biophysiology still remains unclear. The purpose of the present investigation was to study the systemic inflammatory and stress responses, as well as the innate response mediated by monocytes and neutrophils in FM patients. Methods: Twenty-five women diagnosed with primary FM and 20 age-matched healthy women (control group) were enrolled in the study. Circulating ‘neuroendocrine-stress’ biomarkers (CRH, ACTH, cortisol, NA, eHsp72, serotonin and IGF-1) were evaluated by ELISA. Serum IL-8 and CRP concentrations were also determined by ELISA, and inflammatory cytokine release by monocytes [IL-1β, TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18, monocyte chemotactic protein-1 (MCP-1) and RANTES] was evaluated by the Luminex BioPlex system. The phagocytic process of neutrophils (chemotaxis, phagocytosis and microbicide capacity) was also evaluated. Results: FM patients showed an inflammatory state accompanied by an altered stress response. This is mainly manifested by high circulating levels of IL-8 and CRP (in 100% of the FM group), high circulating levels of cortisol, and increased systemic levels of NA and eHsp72. There is also increased release of inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNFα, IL-6, IL-10, IL-18 and MCP-1) by monocytes, and enhanced activation of the functional capacity of neutrophils (chemotactic, phagocytic and fungicidal activities). Conclusion: An inflammatory/stress feedback dysregulation underlies FM. Whether dysregulation of the stress response is the cause of the inflammatory dysregulation or vice versa is also discussed.

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