Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by immune dysfunctions including chronic immune activation, inflammation, and alteration of cytokine profiles.
T helper 17 (Th17) cells belong to a recently identified subset of T helper cells, with crucial regulatory function in inflammatory and autoimmune processes. Th17 cells are implicated in allergic inflammation, intestinal diseases, central nervous system inflammation, disorders that may all contribute to the pathophysiology of CFS.
IL-17F is one of the pro-inflammatory cytokines secreted by Th17 cells.
We investigated the association between CFS and the frequency of rs763780, a C/T genetic polymorphism leading to His161Arg substitution in the IL-17F protein. [A polymorphism is a genetic variant that persists in at least 1% of the population.] The His161Arg variant (C allele) antagonizes the pro-inflammatory effects of the wild-type IL-17F.
A significantly lower frequency of the C allele was observed in the CFS population, suggesting that the His161Arg variant may confer protection against the disease.
These results suggest a role of Th17 cells in the pathogenesis of CFS.
Source: Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Sep 4, 2008. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 18774769, by Metzger K, Frémont M, Roelant C, De Meirleir K. Protea Biopharma, Belgium.