“In this carefully and well-controlled study, we were unable to show a beneficial effect,” said senior researcher Dr. Jos Van der Meer.
“Of course, this is a disappointment,” added Van der Meer, chair of internal medicine at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center in the Netherlands.
Patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have been found to have increased levels of interleukin-1 in their bloodstream. This has fueled suspicion that the mysterious disorder might be linked in some way to inflammation, the researchers said in background notes.
In addition, previous studies have shown that arthritis patients treated with anakinra experience a dramatic decline in their fatigue levels, said Dr. Kevin Fleming, a geriatric specialist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He wasn’t involved in the study.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is generally diagnosed as six months or more of extreme fatigue that doesn’t improve with bed rest. It generally spikes after activities requiring physical or mental energy, according to the U.S. Office on Women’s Health.
To test anakinra’s potential as a treatment, the researchers randomly assigned 25 women with chronic fatigue to receive daily 100-milligram injections of the drug. Another 25 women received a placebo.
After one month, there was no meaningful difference between the two groups in fatigue severity.
Other symptoms — including pain, distress, and physical and social functioning — were not appreciably different, either, according to the study authors.