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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2016 Dec;34(4):300-305. doi: 10.12932/AP0733.

Regulatory T, natural killer T and γδ T cells in multiple sclerosis and chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis: a comparison.

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Griffith Health Institute - Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.
National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases (NCNED) - Griffith University, Gold Coast, QLD, Australia.
Northern Adelaide Local Health Network, Adelaide, SA, Australia.



Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME), and Multiple Sclerosis (MS) may share some similarities in relation to reduced NK cell activity. It is likely that other cells such as regulatory T (Tregs), invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) and gamma delta T (γδ T) cells may also be dysregulated in CFS/ME and MS.


To evaluate and compare specific immune regulatory cells of patients with CFS/ME, patients with MS and healthy controls.


Sixty three volunteers were included in this study: 24 were CFS/ME patients, 11 were MS patients and 27 were healthy controls. Blood samples were obtained from all participants for flow cytometry analysis of iNKT cells, Tregs and γδ T cell phenotypes.


We observed a significant increase in Tregs in the CFS/ME group (p≤0.05) compared to the healthy control group. Total γδ and γδ2 T cells were significantly reduced in MS patients in comparison with the healthy control group. Conversely, CD4+iNKT percentage of iNKT, was significantly increased in the CFS/ME group compared with healthy controls and the double-negative iNKT percentage of iNKT significantly decreased compared with the healthy control group.


This study has not identified any immunological disturbances that are common in both MS and CFS/ME patients. However, the differential expression of cell types between the conditions investigated suggests different pathways of disease. These differences need to be explored in further studies.

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