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Clin Exp Immunol. 2004 Feb;135(2):294-302.

High levels of type 2 cytokine-producing cells in chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Immunology, Guy's, King's & St Thomas's School of Medicine, King's College London, London, UK.


The aetiology of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is not known. However, it has been suggested that CFS may be associated with underlying immune activation resulting in a Th2-type response. We measured intracellular production of interferon (IFN)-gamma and interleukin (IL)-2; type 1 cytokines), IL-4 (type 2) and IL-10 (regulatory) by both polyclonally stimulated and non-stimulated CD4 and CD8 lymphocytes from patients with CFS and control subjects by flow cytometry. After polyclonal activation we found evidence of a significant bias towards Th2- and Tc2-type immune responses in CFS compared to controls. In contrast, levels of IFN-gamma, IL-2 and IL-10-producing cells were similar in both study groups. Non-stimulated cultures revealed significantly higher levels of T cells producing IFN-gamma or IL-4 in CFS patients. Concluding, we show evidence for an effector memory cell bias towards type 2 responsiveness in patients with CFS, as well as ongoing type 0 immune activation in unstimulated cultures of peripheral blood cells.

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