Research abstract:

Research has identified immunological abnormalities in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), a heterogeneous illness with an unknown cause and absence of diagnostic test. There have been no CFS/ME studies examining innate and adaptive immune cells longitudinally in patients with varying severities. This is the first study to investigate immune cells over 6 months while also examining CFS/ME patients of varying symptom severity.

Participants were grouped into 18 healthy controls, 12 moderate and 12 severe CFS/ME patients and flow cytometry was used to examine cell parameters at 0 and 6 months.

Over time, iNKT CD62L expression significantly increased in moderate CFS/ME patients and CD56 bright NK receptors differed in severe CFS/ME. Naïve CD8 + T cells, CD8 − CD4 − and CD56 − CD16 − iNKT phenotypes, γδ2T cells and effector memory subsets were significantly increased in severe CFS/ME patients at 6 months. Severe CFS/ME patients were significantly reduced in CD56 bright CD16 dim NKG2D, CD56 dim CD16 − KIR2DL2/DL3, CD94 − CD11a − γδ1T cells and CD62L + CD11a − γδ1T cells at 6 months.

Severe CFS/ME patients differed from controls and moderate CFS/ME patients over time and expressed significant alterations in iNKT cell phenotypes, CD8 + T cell markers, NK cell receptors and γδT cells at 6 months. This highlights the importance of further assessing these potential immune biomarkers longitudinally in both moderate and severe CFS/ME patients.

Longitudinal analysis of immune abnormalities in varying severities of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis patients, by Sharni Lee Hardcastle, Ekua Weba Brenu, Samantha Johnston, Thao Nguyen, Teilah Huth, Sandra Ramos, Donald Staines and Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik in Journal of Translational Medicine 2015, 13:299  [Published: 14 September 2015]

ME Research UK article: Immune changes in severe ME/CFS

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