Study Suggests Some Mast Cells Prevalent Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
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If I understand this right this small study found that both moderate and severe ME/CFS patients had significantly increased numbers of some mast cells. The increase in receptors means, I think, that the mast cells they found were primed to act. I think RAGE is a factor associated with mast cell activation. It was not increased.d

Maybe someone could interpret this study better. The study provides some evidence that mast cell activation could be occurring in ME/CFS.

Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2016 Jun 30. doi: 10.12932/AP0711. [Epub ahead of print]
Novel characterisation of mast cell phenotypes from peripheral blood mononuclear cells in chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis patients.Nguyen T1, Johnston S, Chacko A, Gibson D, Cepon J, Smith P, Staines D, Marshall-Gradisnik S.[/size][/b][/size]


Mast cells (MCs) mediate inflammation through neuropeptides and cytokines, along with histamine and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is an illness characterized by an unexplained disabling fatigue with multiple physiological impairments as well as dysregulated cytokine profiles.

To determine mast cell phenotypes in isolated human PBMCs, in healthy controls and in CFS/ME patients. Second, determine receptor expression of RAGE and its ligand high mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1).

Moderately severe CFS/ME patients (n=12, mean age 39.25±SD3.52 years), severe CFS/ME patients (n=6, mean age 43.00±SD4.02 years) and healthy controls (n=13, mean age 42.69±SD3.87 years) were included in this study. CFS/ME patients were classified according to the 2011 International Consensus Criteria.

LSRFortessa X-20 Flow cytometry was used for the identification of phenotypic peripheral mast cell population in PBMCs using an exclusion marker Lin2 cocktail (anti-CD3, anti-CD14, anti-CD19, anti-CD20 and anti-CD56) and inclusion markers (CD117, CD34, FCεRI, chymase, HLA-DR and CD154) following comparative investigation. HMGB1 and soluble RAGE expression in plasma was measured by sandwich ELISA assay.

There was a significant increase in CD117+CD34+FCεRI-chymase- mast cell populations in moderate and severe CFS/ME patients compared with healthy controls. There was a significant increase in CD40 ligand and MHC-II receptors on differentiated mast cell populations in the severe CFS/ME compared with healthy controls and moderate CFS/ME. There were no significant differences between groups for HMGB1 and sRAGE.


This preliminary study investigates mast cell phenotypes from PBMCs in healthy controls. We report significant increase of naïve MCs in moderate and severe CFS/ME patients compared with healthy controls. Moreover, a significant increase in CD40 ligand and MHC-II receptors on differentiated mast cells in severe CFS/ME patients. Peripheral MCs may be present in CFS/ME pathology however, further investigation to determine their role is required.

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