Screening NK-, B- and T-cell phenotype and function in patients suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome





Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a debilitating neuro-immune disorder of unknown etiology diagnosed by an array of clinical manifestations. Although several immunological abnormalities have been described in CFS, their heterogeneity has limited diagnostic applicability.

Immunological features of CFS were screened in 22 CFS diagnosed individuals fulfilling Fukuda criteria and 30 control healthy individuals. Peripheral blood T, B and NK cell function and phenotype were analyzed by flow cytometry in both groups.

CFS diagnosed individuals showed similar absolute numbers of T, B and NK cells, with minor differences in the percentage of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. B cells showed similar subset frequencies and proliferative responses between groups. Conversely, significant differences were observed in T cell subsets. CFS individuals showed increased levels of T regulatory cells (CD25+/FOXP3+) CD4 T cells, and lower proliferative responses in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, CD8 T cells from the CFS group showed significantly lower activation and frequency of effector memory cells. No clear signs of T-cell immunosenescence were observed. NK cells from CFS individuals displayed higher expression of NKp46 and CD69 but lower expression of CD25 in all NK subsets defined. Overall, T cell and NK cell features clearly clustered CFS individuals.

Our findings suggest that alterations in T-cell phenotype and proliferative response along with the specific signature of NK cell phenotype may be useful to identify CFS individuals. The striking down modulation of T cell mediated immunity may help to understand intercurrent viral infections in CFS.

Keywords: T regulatory cells; NKp46; Immune activation; Immunosenescence

Marta Curriu1†, Jorge Carrillo1†, Marta Massanella1†, Josepa Rigau2, José Alegre3, Jordi Puig4, Ana M Garcia-Quintana5, Jesus Castro-Marrero3, Eugènia Negredo4, Bonaventura Clotet1,4, Cecilia Cabrera1 and Julià Blanco1,6*

1 Institut de recerca de la sida, IrsiCaixa-HIVACAT, Institut d’Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias I Pujol|, Badalona, Spain 2 CFS Clinic, Tarragona, Spain 3 CFS Unit, Institut de Recerca Vall d’Hebron, Barcelona, Spain 4 Fundació Lluita contra la SIDA, Hospital Germans Trias I Pujol, Badalona, Spain 5 CFS Unit, Delfos Clinic, Barcelona, Spain 6 Institut de Recerca de la sida, IrsiCaixa/Institut d’Investigació en Ciències de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol, Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, 08916, Spain

* Corresponding author: Julià Blanco 

Equal contributors


Read article online in Journal of Translational Medicine  (full article available also in PDF)

Grupos de IrsiCaixa vinculados: Virología e Inmunología Celular (VIC)Virología Tisular (VITI)