To understand why we would run certain lab tests, it is important to understand how a person acquires CIRS. First, a genetically susceptible person (more on this later) is exposed to a biotoxin source. The crux of CIRS illness is dysregulated communication between the two arms of the immune system -the innate and adaptive immune system. Normally the innate immune system would flag the biotoxin and present it to the adaptive immune system that would get rid of it and create an antibody towards it for subsequent exposures.
However, in CIRS, the adaptive immune system doesn’t recognize the biotoxins the innate immune system is flagging, and this allows the biotoxins to stay in the body creating uncontrolled inflammation that never stops. The ongoing absence of protective antibodies to biotoxins is what causes CIRS. We can measure the immune response to this inflammation through “proteomics” which will be abnormal in almost every CIRS patient. Below are the proteomic labs we most often run at Linden & Arc Vitality Institute:
HLA is the biggie. HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigen, and these are a set of genes on chromosome 6 that encode proteins that regulate the immune system. HLA lets us know if you are genetically susceptible to inflammation provoked by biotoxins. And not everyone is! Approximately 25% of the population will be susceptible to CIRS. This is the core of why some people get sick, and others don’t – the predisposition is built into the DNA.
MSH is a hormone made in the pituitary gland in the brain. MSH is the master regulator as it plays an important role in regulating hormones, inflammation, and defence against pathogens. MSH deficiency in CIRS patients is common and can lead to fatigue, chronic pain, insomnia and non-restorative sleep from disrupted circadian rhythms, increased intestinal permeability (IBS like symptoms), sexual dysfunction, and other hormonal irregularities.
Lowered MSH also allows for MARCONS to colonize deep in the nasal sinuses. MARCONS thrives in the biofilm of your nasal mucous membranes and secrete neurotoxic substances into the central nervous system (brain) and worsens the clinical symptoms.
TGF beta-1 may be the single most important lab finding. It is pleiotropic meaning it can either suppress or induce inflammation. It plays a key role in controlling the body’s response to biotoxin exposure by regulating immune pathways. Elevated TGF beta-1 indicates there is an overactive immune response occurring, and inflammation has become the dominant response.
This is an enzyme that allows inflammatory compounds to leave the blood stream and enter organs and tissues. This causes widespread inflammation, especially in the lungs, brain, muscles, joints, and nerves.
This is an inflammatory marker specific to the innate immune system – the first line of defense to immune threats. C4a is part of that sequence of events that occurs when a pathogen sparks the innate immune system response. High levels of C4a are often seen in CIRS and contributes to shortness of breath, fatigue, brain fog, and dysfunction in thinking and memory.
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor is a protein that stimulates the growth of new blood vessels to increase oxygen supply to tissues when circulation is reduced. In CIRS, VEGF is usually low from inflammatory cytokines, and this leads to poor oxygen delivery to muscles. Reduced oxygen leads to cramping and fatigue especially occurring after exercise or physical activity.
ACTH is a hormone released by the pituitary gland in the brain that tells your adrenals -little hat shaped glands on top of your kidneys – to produce cortisol. ACTH and cortisol are in a delicately balanced feedback system. Cortisol is the steroid hormone responsible for the stress response also known as “fight or flight”. Cortisol has many other roles including blood sugar balance, immune regulation, as well as response to physical/emotional stress. Chronic stress from ongoing inflammation in prolonged illness causes cortisol production to become dysregulated and this may appear as an inability to handle stress, sleep disturbances, blood sugar imbalances (dizziness, low blood sugar), and fatigue.
Anti-diuretic hormone is made in the hypothalamus in the brain and regulates the body’s ability to hold water. Osmolality is the concentration of chemical solutes (sodium, potassium, calcium) that are found in the serum or liquid part of the blood. In CIRS, there is a lack of regulation of the balance of salt and water, and this happens when ADH is low (or too high) and osmolarity is too high (or too low). This will cause dehydration headaches (even migraines), excessive thirst, and frequent urination. With sodium levels increasing in the blood, sweat will also have additional salt in it and this can create increased susceptibility to electric static shocks. This is frequently seen as shocking light switches or seeing blue sparks when you rub your feet against the sheets when in bed.
There is a lot to decipher in complex illnesses like CIRS. At Linden & Arc Vitality Institute, we can help you figure out your diagnosis and determine the best courses of action based on your health needs and case. To book an appointment or for more information, contact [email protected].
Berndtson, K., McMahon, S., Ackerley, M., Rapaport, S., Gupta, S., & Shoemaker, R.C., (2008). Medically sound investigation and remediation of water-damaged buildings in cases of CIRS-WDB. Retrieved from https://www.survivingmold.com/MEDICAL_CONSENSUS_STATEMENT_10_30_15.PDF
Shoemaker, R.C. (2010). Surviving mold: Life in the era of dangerous buildings. Otter Bay Books.
Shoemaker, R.C., Andrew, H., Annalaura, M., Ryan, J. (2017). Inflammation induced chronic fatiguing illnesses: A steady march towards understanding mechanisms and identifying new biomarkers and therapies. Internal Medicine Review (3)11, 1-29.
Shoemaker, R.C., Johnson, K., Lysander, J., Berry, Y., Dooley, M., Ryan, J., & McMahon, S. (2018). Diagnostic process for CIRS: A consensus statement report of the Consensus Committee of Surviving Mold. Internal Medicine Review, 4(5), 1-47.
Shoemaker, R.C., Mark, L., McMahon, S., Thrasher, J., Grimes, C. (2010). Research Committee Report on diagnosis and treatment of chronic inflammatory response syndrome caused by exposure to the interior environment of water-damaged buildings. Policyholders of America. Retrieved from https://www.survivingmold.com/docs/POA_MOLD_7_27_10_final.pdf
Shoemaker, R.C., McMahon, S., & Heyman, A. (2020). The art and science of CIRS medicine. Ebook retrieved from https://www.survivingmold.com/store1/books/art-and-science-of-cirs
Shoemaker, R.C., Neil, V., Heyman, A., van der Westhuizen, M., McMahon, S., & Lark, D. (2001). Newer molecular methods bring new insights into human- and building- health risk assessments from water-damaged buildings: Defining exposure and reactivity, the two sides of causation of CIRS-WDB illness. Medical Research Archives (9)3, 1-36. DOI: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v9i3.2358
For more information, go to: https://www.survivingmold.com
Dr. Ayla Lester, ND