In a presentation to an NIH conference on translating research results into clinical practices, the scientific director of the Simmaron Research Foundation, Dr. Isabel Barao, will present a paper suggesting something very strange may be going on in ME/CFS patients’ immune systems.
Her flow cytometry study found that ‘hybrid’ immune cells with characteristics of both T and NKs made up to 30% of all lymphocytes (T, B and NK cells) in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients’ blood. These unusual lymphocytes usually make up from 1-5% of lymphocytes the blood.
Dr. Barao’s statement, “The results are consistent with altered immunity in CFS patients, particularly altered immune responses to chronic viral infections” suggests the high levels of these usually rare cells could be interfering with ME/CFS patients’ ability to fight viruses.
Dr. Barao also noted that these types of cells tend to occur in conditions of “immune stress”. Dr. Brodericks findings of drastically altered immune networks in people with ME/CFS would seem to reflect increased ‘immune stress’ as well.
Dr. Barao, Dr. Peterson, and Dr. Hudwig of Univ. of Nevada Reno collaborated on this research. It’s being presented at the 1st Annual Mountain West CTR-IN Meeting, You can find the abstract here
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I can’t get the link to work.
Does this work for you? – http://ctrin.unlv.edu/usb/abstracts/abstract_barao.html
Yes, It says virtually the same thing in “science” language:
Presentation format: Oral or Poster
Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Title: Altered Distribution of Lymphocyte Populations in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients
Authors: Isabel Barao, Ph.D., Daniel Peterson, M.D., Dorothy Hudig, Ph.D
Institutional Affiliations: University of Nevada, Reno, School of Medicine, Simmaron Research, Inc., Sierra Internal Medicine
Key Words: CFS, NK cells, T cells, cytotoxicity, viral infections
Objective: The goal of our research is to define immunologic deficiencies of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and ultimately to improve the health of these patients by increasing their immunity. Setting:CFS is a debilitating disease of unknown cause(s) defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA. Our patient population is the well-known Reno-Lake Tahoe CFS cohort. Methods: Peripheral blood is the site of traffic of lymphocytes with varying roles in immunity. Lymphocytes are circulating so as to be available to fight infections anywhere in the body or trafficking into secondary lymphoid organs where the lymphocytes will proliferate and differentiate.There are different types of lymphocytes in the blood [including helper T cells, cytotoxic T cells, T cells, B cells, natural killer (NK), and NK-T cells]. Alterations in these populations from healthy individuals are a hallmark of immune stress. To profile these populations, we used flow cytometry with fluorescent antibodies to identify the different populations of lymphocytes in the peripheral blood of CFS patients. Results: We found unusual increases in a ‘hybrid’ population of lymphocytes in CFS patients. This population has features of both T cells and NK cells and is normally 1-5% of all lymphocytes but can be as high as 30% in the CFS patients. Interpretation: The results are consistent with altered immunity in CFS patients, particularly altered immune responsesto chronic viral infections. Further characterization, including repeated tests of the same patients, is needed to determine if this unusual population is persistent and to determine if it can mediate cytotoxicity towards virally infected cells.
Interesting but leaves me wondering what the average among CFS patients was. “Can be as high as” is kind of vague.
I think we can assume that it’s higher than normal – hence the report, but yes, we don’t know how high the average is….That would be good to find out.
I hope there actually is a STUDY involved behind this abstract or it will be just the kind of fodder that the rest of the Medical world scoffs at in dealing with “research” having to do with
ME/CFS. Numbers of people actually studied can’t be just 10-20, controls, etc.,. I believe this was all talked about at the NIH meeting concerning the lack of progress concerning our disease.
I hope there is too! Time will tell. I believe but am not sure that Dr. Barao is orally presenting the study to the conference. That would be a good thing.
There may be conference proceedings written up. I wonder if the results will allow for a blood test?
Some interesting info I turned up in looking into this. Now Barao doesn’t specifically name the cell type she is studying, but this seems like a fit, no?
1. (from Wikipedia):
“Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a heterogeneous group of T cells that share properties of both T cells and natural killer (NK) cells. Many of these cells recognize the non-polymorphic CD1d molecule, an antigen-presenting molecule that binds self- and foreign lipids and glycolipids. They constitute only approximately 0.1% of all peripheral blood T cells.”
2. from (2 papers by same authors, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19265151):
“The Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi is the only known human pathogen that directly activates invariant NKT (iNKT) cells.”
3. More about iNKT cells and spirochetes on this cool website:
So cool VLynx – thanks for figuring that out! How about that Lyme connection….
Good point about average. I am part of the what Dr. Cheney referred to years ago as the “walking wounded.” I’m not housebound or bedbound. But my life came to a screeching halt nearly 30 years ago in 1984. I’ve had a life but not what I planned and I’m limited in what I can do and suffer from ignorance as we all do from people who like to say “walk thru the pain.” And CFS to them is just being tired.
I wonder if I’ll live long enough for the term CFS to “go away.” I’m nearly 75 now so I doubt it. Thanks Cort for all the great info. Anyway, my point is, what level of disability is the research done? Lately I’m seeing references for the “severely ill.” Granted, we will gain from whatever is learned but what if we have a different disorder. Mine sounds like ME from the way it started with vertigo and all the rest. But I was only bedridden for the better part of a week but I was never the same. I developed all the typical symptoms – just not so severe that I couldn’t have some kind of life.
I’m in the same boat as you Nancy…I think it’s all connected. My guess is that Dr. Peterson usually takes the more severely ill for his studies – that makes sense. I think the results will be relevant for the rest of us as well, though.
I have been ill and in chronic pain for many years. Part of this disease has also made it difficult for me to comprehend what I am reading. My experience with my immunity issues…CFS/ME, lupus, hashimotos, hypothyroid, CNS going crazy, carpel tunnel, shingles, Chronic Reactivated Active Epstein Barr Virus, MRI results with white mater lesions in Pons and Midbrain, Raynauds, etc. etc. So I am disabled from the above for 13 years now, but the most interesting points is that….
Since all this began I have not been ill with anything “NORMAL”, no colds, coughs, sore throat, fever, flu, earache…anything!!! Even though I am exposed to my family who gets ill and I may have shared drinks with them, well close contact and I never catch it! My immune system is in overdrive it seems,
Is this study about the immune system not helping, or over acting like mine? I am sorry. But I have realized that my mind is now becoming affected. Is this part of it all? I am 52.
Thank you all!!!
From what I can tell this study suggests an immune system that might have difficulty suppressing viruses, but there are many twists and turns in medicine! My understanding is the immune systems in overdrive are in fact more effective at suppressing viruses. These hybrid immune cells appear to the result of immune ‘stress’ which could be due to an ongoing pathogen attack.
You are the first person I have encountered who has not had a cold, flu, any virus for years. I am the same way and this has always worried me. I think that with some of us, our immune systems are in overdrive. Possibly still fighting a hidden virus in our bodies. I am 58 years old and was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2004. I am curious, does anyone else exhibit this strange resistance to viruses?
Thank you and many blessings to all of you on this site.
I am also one of these few people! I am also one of the few people who did not obviously have a virus at or before the start of the virus or obviously flu like symptoms even though I have most m.e/cfs symptoms, in particular the less common ones. I’m not in contact with many people with viruses (housebound but also don’t want to catch something as I suffer enough as it is) but the one time I have got a cold that I can remember in the last 10 years or so I don’t think it made my m.e worse.
“Sign up for the ME/CFS and FM Buzz on the right hand side of the page.” Where? I can’t find anything on your blog, and there isn’t anything on the Simmaron site. Please help. I’d like to subscribe to the BUZZ. Thanks.
I want you on there Carol. If you go to the top of the page and scroll down the right hand side you should see Get the Free ME/CFS blog then Support Health Rising then “ME/CFS and FM Buzz” and then below THAT – the subscribe to the Buzz widget. Do those show up for you?
“Sign up for the ME/CFS and FM Buzz on the right hand side of the page.” Where? Can’t find it on Simmaron site or anywhere else. Thanks.