We have the posibility to measure antibodies directed against a number of regulatory receptors in the body cells - the so-called G-protein coupled receptors. The measurements are made by drawing blood samples (2 glasses), which are then frozen for susequent shipment to the Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin, Berlin. Then costs per shipment is the same regardless of the number of vials and we therefore collect samples from 10-15 patients before shipment. After shipment, it takes approximately 6 weeks before we have the results.
The assay itself is cumbersome, using live heart muscle cells from newborn rats - a so-called bioassay and because it consists of stepwise blocking of the receptors over 3-5 days. This method has a significantly higher precision than the methods commonly used. The measurement can only tell whether the antibodies are present, but not their biological potency. We are working on the latter item and hope to able to quantify this sometime in the near future.
Both we and other laboratories have found G-protein coupled antibodies in chronic fatigue syndrome/ME, in postural tachycardia syndrome (POTS), and in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). The antibodies in question are directed against receptors in the sympa-thetic nervous system (the "stress system"), in the parasympathetic nervous system (controlling gastro-intestinal function, bladder, heart, sensory perception) and in parts of the pain system.