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Dysfunction of natural killer activity in a family with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

  [ 49 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Levine PH, Whiteside TL, Friberg D, Bryant J, Colclough G, Herberman RB • www.ProHealth.com • July 5, 1998


A family was identified with 5 of 6 siblings and 3 other immediate
family members who had developed chronic fatigue syndrome
(CFS) as adults. All 8 met criteria for the CFS case
definition as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention. Sixty-eight blood samples were obtained over a
period of 2 years from 20 family members (8 affected, 12
unaffected) and 8 normal controls. All blood samples were
tested for NK activity in 4-h 51Cr-release assays and for the
number of circulating CD3-CD56(+) and CD3-CD16(+) by flow
cytometry. NK activity of the affected immediate family
members (cases, n = 8) was significantly lower (P = 0.006,
two-sided) than that of the concurrently tested normal
controls. The results for unaffected family members were
intermediate between these two groups, and the pairwise
comparison of unaffected family members to either cases or
controls showed no statistically significant difference (P =
0.29, two-sided). No differences were seen between the groups
in the absolute number of CD3-CD56(+) or CD3-CD16(+)
lymphocytes in the peripheral blood. Familial CFS was
associated with persistently low NK activity, which was
documented in 6/8 cases and in 4/12 unaffected family members.
In the family with 5 of 6 siblings who had documented CFS, 2
of their offspring had pediatric malignancies. Low NK activity
in this family may be a result of a genetically determined
immunologic abnormality predisposing to CFS and cancer.




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