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Study Finds Differences In Energy Use By Immune Cells In ME/CFS

Saturday 14 December 2019


From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:


Cornell University
Using innovative technology, researchers analyzed
metabolism in ME/CFS CD4 and CD8 T cells.
(Image credit: Dave Burbank/Cornell University)

Study finds differences in energy use by immune cells in ME/CFS

NIH-funded research suggests changes in the immune system in myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome


Thursday, December 12, 2019
Copyright © 2019 National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

New findings published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggest that specific immune T cells from people with myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) show disruptions in the way they produce energy. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

"This research gives us additional evidence for the role of the immune system in ME/CFS and may provide important clues to help us understand the mechanisms underlying this devastating disease," said Vicky Whittemore, Ph.D., program director at NIH's National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), which partially funded the study.

ME/CFS is a severe, chronic, and debilitating disease that can cause a range of symptoms including pain, severe exhaustion, cognitive impairment, and post-exertional malaise, the worsening of symptoms after physical or mental activity. Estimates suggest that between 836,000 and 2.5 million people in the United States may be affected by ME/CFS. It is unknown what causes the disease and there are no treatments.

Research by Alexandra Mandarano and collaborators in the laboratory of Maureen Hanson, Ph.D., professor of molecular biology and genetics at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, examined biochemical reactions involved in energy production, or metabolism, in two specific types of immune cells obtained from 45 healthy controls and 53 people with ME/CFS. Investigators focused on CD4 T cells, which alert other immune cells about invading pathogens, and CD8 T cells, which attack infected cells. Dr. Hanson's team used state-of-the-art methods to look at energy production by the mitochondria within T cells, when the cells were in a resting state and after they had been activated. Mitochondria are biological powerhouses and create most of the energy that drives cells.


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