Impact of long-term cryopreservation on blood immune cell markers in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: implications for biomarker discovery, by Elisabet Gómez-Mora, Jorge Carrillo, Víctor Urrea, Josepa Rigau, José Alegre, Cecilia Cabrera, Elisa Oltra, Jesús Castro-Marrero and Julià Blanco in Front. Immunol., 17 November 2020 [doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2020.582330]
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex neuroimmune disorder characterized by numerous symptoms of unknown etiology. The ME/CFS immune markers reported so far have failed to generate a clinical consensus, perhaps partly due to the limitations of biospecimen biobank.
To address this issue, we performed a comparative analysis of the impact of long-term biobanking on previously identified immune markers and also explored additional potential immune markers linked to infection in ME/CFS. A correlation analysis of marker cryostability across immune cell subsets based on flow cytometry immunophenotyping of fresh blood and frozen PBMC samples collected from individuals with ME/CFS (n = 18) and matched healthy controls (n = 18) was performed.
The functionality of biobanked samples was assessed on the basis of cytokine production assay after stimulation of frozen PBMCs. T cell markers defining Treg subsets and the expression of surface glycoprotein CD56 in T cells and the frequency of the effector CD8 T cells, together with CD57 expression in NK cells, appeared unaltered by biobanking. By contrast, NK cell markers CD25 and CD69 were notably increased, and NKp46 expression markedly reduced, by long-term cryopreservation and thawing. Further exploration of Treg and NK cell subsets failed to identify significant differences between ME/CFS patients and healthy controls in terms of biobanked PBMCs.
Our findings show that some of the previously identified immune markers in T and NK cell subsets become unstable after cell biobanking, thus limiting their use in further immunophenotyping studies for ME/CFS. These data are potentially relevant for future multisite intervention studies and cooperative projects for biomarker discovery using ME/CFS biobanked samples. Further studies are needed to develop novel tools for the assessment of biomarker stability in cryopreserved immune cells from people with ME/CFS.