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Studies of the relative percentages of B-cell subsets in patients with ME/CFS have not revealed any reproducible differences from healthy controls (HC). In order to explore whether more subtle alterations in B-cell subsets related to B-cell differentiation exist in ME/CFS patients we used flow cytometry to immunophenotype CD19+ B-cells.
The panel utilized IgD, CD27 and CD38 (classical B-cell subsets) together with additional markers. A total of 38 patients fulfilling Canadian, Centre for Disease Control, and Fukuda ME/CFS criteria and 32 age/sex-matched HC were included.
We found no difference in percentages of classical subsets between ME/CFS patients and HC. However, we observed an increase in frequency (p20%) was associated with the presence of ME/CFS (Odds ratio: 3.47 (1.15-10.46); p=0.03) compared with HC and there was a negative correlation with disease duration.
In conclusion, we identified possible changes in B-cell phenotype in patients with ME/CFS. These may reflect altered B-cell function and if confirmed in other patient cohorts, could provide a platform for studies based on clinical course or responsiveness to rituximab-therapy.