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alpha-Interferon treatment of patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

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Thirty patients who fulfilled clinical criteria defined by the CDC
for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome were treated with alfa 2a
interferon or placebo in a double-blind crossover study.
Outcome was evaluated by Natural Killer (NK) cell function,
lymphocyte proliferation to mitogens and soluble antigens,
CD4/CD8 counts and a 10 item Quality of Life (QOL) survey.
Although mean NK function rose from 87.8 +/- 19.6 to 129.3 +/-
20.7 lytic untis (LU; p < .05) with 12 weeks of interferon
therapy, there was no significant change in the other
immunologic parameters or QOL scores. When the 26 patients who
completed the study were stratified according to their
baseline NK function and lymphocyte proliferation, 4 groups
were identified: 3 patients had normal NK cell function and
lymphocyte proliferation when compared to normal, healthy
controls, 9 had isolated deficiency in lymphocyte
proliferation, 7 had diminished NK function only, and 7 had
abnormalities for both parameters. QOL scores were not
significantly different for the four groups at baseline. After
12 weeks of interferon therapy, QOL score significantly
improved in each of the seven patients with isolated NK cell
dysfunction (mean score, 16.3 +/- 7.9) compared to baseline
(39.7 +/- 12.1; p < .05). In these patients the mean NK
function increased from 35.1 +/- 11.7 to 91.5 +/- 22.7 LU (p <
.01). Significant improvement was not recorded for QOL in the
other three groups. Thus, therapy with alpha interferon has a
significant effect on the QOL of that subgroup of patients
with CFS manifesting an isolated decrease in NK function.

See DM, Tilles JG

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