It is unclear whether insulin-like growth factor (IGF) function is involved in the pathophysiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Unpublished data and reports in patient organization newsletters suggest that Acclydine, a food supplement, could be effective in the treatment of CFS by increasing biologically active IGF1 levels. Here we aimed to measure the IGF1 and IGF binding protein (IGFBP) 3 status of CFS patients compared to age- and gender-matched neighborhood controls, and to assess the effect of Acclydine on fatigue severity, functional impairment, and biologically active IGF1 level (IGFBP3/IGF1 ratio).
A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical trial.
Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre, The Netherlands.
Fifty-seven adult patients who fulfilled the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for CFS. IGF status of 22 CFS patients was compared to that of 22 healthy age- and gender-matched neighborhood control individuals.
Acclydine or placebo for 14 wk.
Outcomes were fatigue severity (Checklist Individual Strength, subscale fatigue severity [CIS-fatigue]), functional impairment (Sickness Impact Profile-8 [SIP-8]), and biologically active IGF1 serum concentrations. Analyses were on an intention-to-treat basis.
There was no difference in IGF status in 22 CFS patients compared to healthy age- and gender-matched control individuals. Treatment with Acclydine did not result in significant differences compared with the placebo group on any of the outcome measures: CIS-fatigue +1.1 (95% CI −4.4 to +6.5, p = 0.70), SIP-8 +59.1 (95% CI −201.7 to +319.8, p = 0.65), and IGFBP3/IGF1 ratio −0.5 (95% CI −2.8 to +1.7, p = 0.63).
We found no differences in IGF1 status in CFS patients compared to healthy matched neighborhood controls. In addition, the results of this clinical trial do not demonstrate any benefit of Acclydine over placebo in the treatment of CFS.
Background: Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated and poorly understood illness. People with the condition experience tiredness that carries on for a long period of time and does not get better with rest. Other symptoms include sleeping problems, muscle and joint pains, concentration difficulties, and headaches. The causes of chronic fatigue syndrome are not known. There is evidence for the effectiveness of certain behavioral interventions, such as exercise therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, in improving certain symptoms. However, some doctors are concerned that a food supplement called Acclydine, derived from a plant called Solanum dulcamara, is being used and promoted as a treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome when there is little evidence about the efficacy or safety of this supplement.
The researchers here carried out a randomized trial in The Netherlands, recruiting adult patients who met the internationally accepted criteria for chronic fatigue syndrome. The participants were allocated by chance to receive either 14 weeks of treatment with Acclydine together with amino acid supplements or, alternatively, placebo versions of the Acclydine and amino acid tablets. The researchers then measured participants' responses with respect to two primary outcome measures. One of these was how tired participants felt, which was measured using a subscale on a questionnaire called the Checklist Individual Strength scale (CIS-fatigue). The other primary outcome measure was “functional impairment,” which examines how well someone carries out their daily life, using the Sickness Impact Profile (SIP-8) scale. The secondary outcome measures included physical activity levels, day-to-day fatigue levels, and the levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) in blood, a hormone that's thought by some researchers to be related to the severity of chronic fatigue.
What the trial shows: In the trial, 57 people were randomized to receive either Acclydine plus amino acid supplements, or placebo tablets. When comparing scores on the primary outcome measures at the end of the trial, the researchers did not see significant differences between the treatment and placebo groups. Similarly, the results for secondary outcome measures in this trial did not show any significant differences between the treatment and placebo groups.
Strengths and limitations: Strengths of this study include the fact that it is one of the few properly designed studies of a product for which claims have been made of effectiveness in chronic fatigue syndrome. The study was designed as a double-blind trial, in which participants and investigators (those collecting the outcome data) did not know whether an individual received Acclydine or placebo. This procedure should help to minimize bias in assessing outcomes. A key limitation of this study is the relatively small number of participants. However, the investigators considered it unlikely that a larger trial would detect a clinically meaningful effect of Acclydine on these outcome measures for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
Contribution to the evidence: Systematic reviews of interventions for the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome have found evidence for the efficacy of exercise therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy. This trial shows no evidence of efficacy of Acclydine plus amino acid supplements for the treatment of chronic fatigue.