Enhanced Gene Expression Following Vaccination in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis

Editors Comment: The underlying hypothesis of this pilot study was that flu vaccine could act as an immune stimulator at the genetic level, thereby correcting the predominant immune abnormality found in CFS/ME. The researchers found that after flu vaccination there was, indeed, an increase in cytotoxic activity. That is, the immune system, at least for a short time, was more efficient at producing antibodies. Athough the authors concluded that “these effects may be beneficial as they may cause a significant improvement in mechanisms such as cytotoxic activity,” many CFS/ME patients have reported that flu vaccine makes them feel much worse. The full version of the study can be accessed from the link below. 

~Source: IJCM. March, 2013. 

By Ekua W. Brenu et al.


Vaccines have been shown to cause differential expression of genes and increase antibody titers against antigens.   Influenza vaccines may have an effect on unexplained disorders such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). Immunological changes have been identified following immunization with trivalent influenza vaccine (TIV). The objective of this pilot study was to examine the consequences of TIV on cytokine and cytotoxic genes in CFS/ME. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were preferentially isolated from whole blood of 7 CFS/ME  patients and 8 controls. Following total RNA extraction and synthesis of cDNA, reverse transcriptase-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) was used to determine the expression levels of mRNAs for cytotoxic genes (perforin (PRF1), granzyme A (GZMA), granzyme B (GZMB) and cytokine genes. GZMB was significantly increased overall in the CFS/ME patients compared to the controls. GZMA was significantly increased 28 days after vaccination while PRF1 was reduced prevaccination but increased 14 days post-vaccination in the CFS/ME patients. There were no significant changes in cytokine genes pre or post vaccination. Administration of TIV may increase the expression of lytic genes in CFS/ME and this may contribute to the increase in cytotoxic activity we observed in these patients post vaccination.

SourceIJCM. Vol. 4 No. 3, March, 2013.  Ekua W. Brenu, Gunn M. Atkinson, Mieke L. van Driel, Sanne Kreijkamp-Kaspers, Don R. Staines, Sonya M. Marshall-Gradisnik

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