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Clin Exp Immunol. 1992 Jan;87(1):76-9.

Cell-mediated immunity in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, healthy control subjects and patients with major depression.

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Department of Immunology, Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, Australia.


The chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is characterized by severe persistent fatigue and neuropsychiatric symptoms. It has been proposed that the abnormalities in cell-mediated immunity which have been documented in patients with CFS may be attributable to a clinical depression, prevalent in patients with this disorder. Cell-mediated immune status was evaluated in patients with carefully defined CFS and compared with that of matched subjects with major depression (non-melancholic, non-psychotic) as well as healthy control subjects. Patients with CFS demonstrated impaired lymphocyte responses to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) stimulation, and reduced or absent delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) skin responses when compared either with subjects with major depression or with healthy control subjects (P less than 0.05 for each analysis). Although depression is common in patients with CFS, the disturbances of cell-mediated immunity in this disorder differ in prevalence and magnitude from those associated with major depression. These observations strengthen the likelihood of a direct relationship between abnormal cell-mediated immunity and the etiology of CFS.

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