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Scand J Immunol. 1989 Jul;30(1):13-20.

Naloxone-reversible monocyte dysfunction in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.

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Department of Internal Medicine, University Clinic, School of Medicine, Pamplona, Spain.


We studied monocyte function in 35 consecutive patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and 25 healthy controls. Eighty-five per cent of the patients showed monocyte dysfunction characterized by marked reduction in the number of monocytes displaying immunoreactive cytoskeletal vimentin filaments, a low phagocytosis index, and a reduced expression of HLA-DR antigens. These values increased dramatically after incubation of the patients' monocytes with the opioid antagonist naloxone. Other immunological abnormalities also noted in the patients were low lymphocyte blastogenesis and diminished numbers of monocytes displaying receptors for Fc of IgG (FcR) and C3b (CR1). These findings suggest that an increased opioid activity acting through a classical receptor mechanism is active on monocytes from a high proportion of patients with CFS and that this represents a novel example of immunomodulation by opioid peptides in human disease. We suggest that endogenous opioids are involved in the pathogenesis of the chronic fatigue syndrome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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