Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a multifactorial disorder defined by symptom-specific criteria and characterised by severe and prolonged fatigue. CFS/ME typically affects a variety of bodily systems, including the immune system.

Patients with CFS/ME exhibit significantly reduced Natural Killer (NK) cell activity suggesting immune which may be hallmarks of changes in the adaptive immune system, potentially including T cell subsets and function. The principal purpose of T cells is to regulate immune responses and maintain immune homeostasis.

These regulatory measures can often be compromised during illness and may present in a number of diseases including CFS/ME. This review paper examines the role of T cells in CFS/ME and the potential impact of T cells on CFS/ME immune profiles with an evaluation of the current literature.


A number of studies have assessed T cells in CFS/ME, although further studies are required to obtain consistency and validation of results. Assessment of T cell cytokines in CFS/ME patients based on PBMCs is not the most appropriate method of assessing these cells as they are not specific to subsets of T cells that vary in cytokine secretion. Similarly, assessment of CD8 + T and CD4 + T cells and cytokine profiles, may highlight specific cells that may be affected in CFS/ME patients. In particular, Tregs and their regulatory activities may deserve closer investigation. Subgrouping of CFS/ME patients may be necessary in the future to determine whether T cell subsets and function differs among CFS/ME patients based on their variation of disorder onset or severity.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and the Potential Role of T Cells by S. L. Hardcastle, E. W. Brenu(a), D.R. Staines, S. Marshall-Gradisnik in Biological Markers and Guided Therapy Vol 1 2014




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