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Clin Exp Immunol. 2003 May;132(2):360-5.

Normal production of inflammatory cytokines in chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes determined by intracellular cytokine staining in short-term cultured blood mononuclear cells.

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Division of Molecular and Clinical Immunology, School of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK.


It has been proposed that cytokines play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). However, different studies have reported conflicting results using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay or polymerase chain reaction to detect cytokines in these conditions. In the present study, for the first time, the production of inflammatory [interleukin (IL)-1alpha, IL-6, and TNF-alpha] and anti-inflammatory (IL-10) cytokines by CD14+ and CD14- peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) patients and sex- and age-matched normal subjects was investigated at the level of individual cells using the technique of intracellular cytokine staining and flow cytometry. Cultures were carried out in the presence of polymyxin B to inhibit the effect of endotoxins on cytokine production by monocytes. The mean intensity of fluorescence (MIF) and percentage of CD14+ (monocytes) and CD14- (lymphocytes) cytokine-producing mononuclear cells were comparable in patients and controls in either unstimulated or IFN-gamma-stimulated conditions. Our study indicates that dysregulation of cytokine production by circulating monocytes or non-monocytic cells (lymphocytes) is not a dominant factor in the pathogenesis of CFS/FMS.

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