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Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2003 May;53(1):26-33.

Predictive immunophenotypes: disease-related profile in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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  • 1Laboratory of Flow Cytometry, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo, New York 14263, USA. flow@attglobal.net



There is a growing body of evidence supporting the theory that problems with immune function play an important role in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).


We studied 90 CFS cases and 50 healthy controls from two different areas of upstate New York to determine whether there were differences in the absolute number and pattern of natural killer (NK) and cytotoxic T-cell phenotypes between CFS cases and healthy controls in the two regions. One group was from a small town where a cluster of cases existed; the other was from a large metropolitan area where there was not a known cluster.


The number of CD56+CD3+CD8+ and CD56+CD3+CD8- cells in cases from the two areas were both significantly elevated over that of controls from the metropolitan area (P < 0.03). The number of CD56+CD3-CD8+ and CD56+CD3-CD8- cells was significantly reduced in the two case groups compared to that of controls from the metropolitan area (P = 0.04). However, controls who were from the same town as the cluster cases had numbers of CD56+CD3+CD8+, CD56+CD3+CD8-, and CD56+CD3-CD8- cells that were more like that of cases than controls. Only the number of CD56+CD3-CD8+ cells (an NK cell subset) was significantly different in cases versus controls from the cluster area (P = 0.022).


These data suggest that differences in controls from cluster and noncluster areas may be responsible for some of the inconsistencies in results from other studies. Furthermore, they suggest the possibility that NK cell function may play an important role in preventing the development of CFS in individuals who live in a community where a cluster of cases have been identified.

Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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