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Cytokine. 1991 Jul;3(4):292-8.

Altered cytokine release in peripheral blood mononuclear cell cultures from patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Medicine, Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55415.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is an idiopathic illness associated with a variety of immunologic abnormalities. To investigate potential pathogenetic mechanisms, we evaluated serum levels and peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) production of selected cytokines and immunoglobulins. Serum bioactive transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) levels were higher (P less than 0.01) in patients with CFS (290 +/- 46 pg/mL) than in control subjects (104 +/- 18 pg/mL), but levels of other cytokines tested were not different. Lipopolysaccharide-stimulated release of interleukin 1 beta (IL-1 beta), IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha was increased (P less than 0.05) in PBMC cultures from patients with CFS versus control subjects; enhanced (P less than 0.01) IL-6 release to phytohemagglutinin was also observed. In contrast, TGF-beta release in response to lipopolysaccharide was depressed (P less than 0.01) in PBMC cultures derived from patients with CFS. No differences in IL-2 and IL-4 or immunoglobulin production were observed. The enhanced release of inflammatory cytokines by stimulated PBMC from patients with CFS suggests that these cells are primed for an increased response to immune stimuli. These data also suggest an association between abnormal regulation of TGF-beta production in vivo and in vitro with the immunologic consequence of CFS.

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