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Changes in immune parameters seen in Gulf War veterans but not in civilians with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 82 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • January 2, 1999

The purpose of this study was to evaluate immune function
through the assessment of lymphocyte subpopulations (total T
cells, major histocompatibility complex [MHC] I- and
II-restricted T cells, B cells, NK cells, MHC II-restricted
T-cell-derived naive and memory cells, and several MHC
I-restricted T-cell activation markers) and the measurement of
cytokine gene expression (interleukin 2 [IL-2], IL-4, IL-6,
IL-10, IL-12, gamma interferon [IFN-gamma], and tumor necrosis
factor alpha [TNF-alpha]) from peripheral blood lymphocytes.
Subjects included two groups of patients meeting published
case definitions for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)-a group of
veterans who developed their illness following their return
home from participating in the Gulf War and a group of
nonveterans who developed the illness sporadically. Case
control comparison groups were comprised of healthy Gulf War
veterans and nonveterans, respectively.

We found no significant difference for any of the immune variables
in the nonveteran population. In contrast, veterans with CFS had
significantly more total T cells and MHC II+ T cells and a
significantly higher percentage of these lymphocyte
subpopulations, as well as a significantly lower percentage of
NK cells, than the respective controls. In addition, veterans
with CFS had significantly higher levels of IL-2, IL-10,
IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha than the controls. These data do not
support the hypothesis of immune dysfunction in the genesis of
CFS for sporadic cases of CFS but do suggest that service in
the Persian Gulf is associated with an altered immune status
in veterans who returned with severe fatiguing illness.

Zhang Q, Zhou XD, Denny T, Ottenweller JE, Lange G, LaManca JJ, Lavietes MH, Pollet C, Gause WC, Natelson BH

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