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CD4 T lymphocytes from patients with chronic fatigue syndrome have decreased interferon-γ production and increased sensitivity to dexamethasone

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Author: Visser, J. · Blauw, B. · Hinloopen, B. · Brommer, E. · Ronald De Kloet, E. · Kluft, C. · Nagelkerken, L.
Institution: TNO Preventie en Gezondheid
Source:Journal of Infectious Diseases, 2, 177, 451-454
Identifier: 234375
Keywords: Pharmacology · Adult · CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes · Cell Division · Cells, Cultured · Dexamethasone · Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic · Glucocorticoids · Humans · Interferon Type II · Interleukin-4 · Middle Aged · Th1 Cells


A disturbed hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal gland axis and alterations at the immune system level have been observed in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Glucocorticoids are known to modulate T cell responses; therefore, purified CD4 T cells from CFS patients were studied to determine whether they have an altered sensitivity to dexamethasone (DEX). CD4 T cells from CFS patients produced less interferon-γ than did cells from controls; by contrast, interleukin-4 production and cell proliferation were comparable. With CD4 T cells from CFS patients (compared with cells from controls), a 10- to 20-fold lower DEX concentration was needed to achieve 50% inhibition of interleukin-4 production and proliferation, indicating an increased sensitivity to DEX in CFS patients. Surprisingly, interferon-γ production in patients and controls was equally sensitive to DEX. A differential sensitivity of cytokines or CD4 T cell subsets to glucocorticoids might explain an altered immunologic function in CFS patients.