A Systematic Review of Biological Mechanisms of Fatigue in Chronic Illness

Lea Ann Matura, Susan Malone, Rosario Jaime-Lara, Barbara Riegel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Fatigue, a commonly reported symptom, is defined as an overwhelming, debilitating, and sustained sense of exhaustion that decreases the ability to function and carry out daily activities. To date, cancer researchers have been in the forefront in investigating the possible biological mechanisms of fatigue, identifying inflammation, dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis, and activation of the autonomic nervous system. The purpose of this systematic review is to describe fatigue and what is known about the biological mechanisms described in cancer in five chronic, noninfectious illnesses: heart failure, multiple sclerosis, chronic kidney disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. We searched PubMed and EMBASE using fatigue as a major Medical subject headings (MeSH) heading with each individual disease added as a search term followed by each biological mechanism. We included only primary research articles published in English between 1996 and 2016 describing studies conducted in adult humans. We identified 26 relevant articles. While there is some evidence that the biological mechanisms causing fatigue in cancer are also associated with fatigue in other chronic illnesses, more research is needed to explore inflammation, the HPA axis, and the autonomic nervous system, and other mechanisms in relation to fatigue in a variety of chronic illnesses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)410-421
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Research for Nursing
Volume20
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

Fingerprint

Fatigue
Chronic Disease
Autonomic Nervous System
Medical Subject Headings
Inflammation
Neoplasms
Chronic Renal Insufficiency
Research
PubMed
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Multiple Sclerosis
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Heart Failure
Research Personnel

Keywords

  • autonomic nervous system
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • fatigue
  • heart failure
  • hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis
  • inflammation
  • multiple sclerosis
  • rheumatoid arthritis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory

Cite this

A Systematic Review of Biological Mechanisms of Fatigue in Chronic Illness. / Matura, Lea Ann; Malone, Susan; Jaime-Lara, Rosario; Riegel, Barbara.

In: Biological Research for Nursing, Vol. 20, No. 4, 01.07.2018, p. 410-421.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Matura, Lea Ann ; Malone, Susan ; Jaime-Lara, Rosario ; Riegel, Barbara. / A Systematic Review of Biological Mechanisms of Fatigue in Chronic Illness. In: Biological Research for Nursing. 2018 ; Vol. 20, No. 4. pp. 410-421.
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