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Immune Abnormalities in Patients Meeting New Diagnostic Criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

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By E.K. Brenu et al. • • December 8, 2013


Editor's Comment: The authors of this study state that "[t]his is the first study to examine whether immunological differences may be found among patients fulfilling different diagnostic criteria for CFS/ME, according to the 1994 CDC and ICC. The findings indicate that the ICC is invaluable in identifying immunological differences that have consistently been shown to be decreased in CFS/ME patients diagnosed with the 1994 CDC."

Apart from its finding that the ICC is invaluable for identifying immune system abnormalities in patients with CFS/ME, this study demonstrates that objective measurements of immune system markers are essential for diagnosing the illness. The authors also found that "CFS/ME is not necessarily associated with irregular distribution of lymphocyte subtypes but rather deregulation of intricate functional capacities of these immune lymphocytes. It is important to consider in the interpretation of the findings that a relationship between immunological parameters and physical health does not imply causality but supports the hypothesis that some CFS/ME patients have an underlying immune mechanism contributing to their illness."

In short, this study provides concrete evidence that CFS/ME, at least for a subset of patients, is the product of an immune system disorder.

Note: The full text of this study can be read HERE.

By E.K. Brenu et al.


Background: Immunological abnormalities have been identified in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis patients fulfilling the 1994 Centers for Disease Control diagnostic criteria. Significant developments have been made to diagnostic criteria, but potential immunological markers have not been assessed in patients fulfilling these latest clinical requirements. Therefore, this study evaluated immunological parameters in patients that also fulfill the latest diagnostic criteria available known as the International Consensus Criteria.

Methods: The Immunological investigations including Natural Killer cell activity and phenotyping studies for dendritic cells, neutrophils, B cells and regulatory T cells were performed on whole blood samples collected from all participants using flow cytometric protocols. The physical functioning of all participants was also evaluated using scores from the Short Form Health Survey, and the World Health Organization Disability Adjustment Schedule. Results were compared according 1994 Centers of Disease Control and Prevention defined patients, and International Consensus Criteria defined patients, and healthy controls.

Results: Natural killer cell activity was consistently and significantly decreased, and regulatory T cells were significantly increased in both patient groups compared to healthy controls. Differences were found in human neutraphil antigens and expression of natural killer cell receptors between patient groups. Highly significant correlations were also found between physical status and some immune parameters in International Consensus Criteria defined patients.

Conclusion: This preliminary investigation on different diagnostic criteria suggests that the International Consensus Criteria may be more effective in detecting salient differences in the immune system.

Source: Brenu EW, Johnston S, Hardcastle SL, Huth TK, Fuller K, Ramos SB, Staines DR, and Marshall-Gradisnik SM. (2013) Immune Abnormalities in Patients Meeting New Diagnostic Criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. J Mol Biomark Diagn 4: 152. doi:10.4172/2155-9929.1000152

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