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Lymphocyte markers & natural killer cell activity in fibromyalgia (FM) syndrome: effects of low - dose, sublingual use of human interferon - alpha

  [ 50 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • August 10, 1999

A clinical study was designed to utilize flow cytometric
immunophenotyping and chromium release from cultured tumor
target cells to characterize peripheral blood mononuclear
leukocyte (PBML) subpopulations and natural killer activity in
healthy normal controls (n = 18) and in patients with
fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) at baseline (n = 124) and again
after 6 weeks of treatment with low-doses of orally
administered human interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha). Volunteer
subjects discontinued all analgesic and sedative hypnotic
medications for 2 weeks prior to the baseline phlebotomy.

Laboratory measures included a complete blood count; a
phenotypic analysis of PBML by flow cytometry; and in vitro
natural killer (NK) cell activity. After baseline blood sample
collection, the FMS patients were randomized to one of four
parallel treatment groups (n = 28/group) to receive sublingual
IFN-alpha (15 IU, 50 IU, 150 IU), or placebo every morning for
6 weeks. The tests were repeated at week 6 to evaluate
treatment effects. At baseline, FMS patients exhibited fewer
lymphocytes and more CD25+ T lymphocytes than did normal
controls. By week 6, the main significant and consistent
change was a decrease in the HLA-DR+ CD4+ subpopulation in the
15 IU and 150 IU treatment groups. These data do not support
an immunologically dysfunctional PBML phenotype among patients
with FMS as has been observed in the chronic fatigue syndrome.

Russell IJ, Vipraio GA, Michalek JE, Craig FE, Kang YK, Richards AB

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