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NK cell research from 30 years ago showing serious problems

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS Discussion' started by Daisymay, Mar 3, 2017.

  1. Daisymay

    Daisymay Senior Member

    I saw a link to this paper posted on Dave Tuller's FB in a comment from Erick Johnson, the paper refers to research on Lake Tahoe patients NK cells, published thirty years ago.

    It is always deeply shocking to see how this sort of research wasn't followed through at the time due to the total failure of the CDC/NIH, the power of the psychiatric paradigm especially over here in the UK, the universal lack of funding and desire to help patients.

    J Immunol. 1987 Nov 15;139(10):3306-13.
    Phenotypic and functional deficiency of natural killer cells in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
    Caligiuri M1, Murray C, Buchwald D, Levine H, Cheney P, Peterson D, Komaroff AL, Ritz J.
    Author information

    Natural killer (NK)3 cells are large granular lymphocytes that appear to play a significant role in the host's defense against viral infection. We performed an extensive phenotypic and functional characterization of NK cells on 41 patients with the chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), or "chronic active Epstein-Barr virus infection" syndrome, and on 23 age- and sex-matched asymptomatic control subjects in an attempt to further characterize this illness. These studies demonstrated that a majority of patients with CFS have low numbers of NKH1+T3- lymphocytes, a population that represents the great majority of NK cells in normal individuals. CFS patients had normal numbers of NKH1+T3+ lymphocytes, a population that represents a relatively small fraction of NK cells in normal individuals. When tested for cytotoxicity against a variety of different target cells, patients with CFS consistently demonstrated low levels of killing. After activation of cytolytic activity with recombinant interleukin 2, patients were able to display increased killing against K562 but most patients remained unable to lyse Epstein-Barr virus-infected B cell targets. Additional cytotoxicity experiments were carried out utilizing anti-T3 monoclonal antibody to block killing by NKH1+T3+ cells. These experiments indicated that the NK cell that appears to be responsible for much of the functional activity remaining in patients with CFS belongs to the NKH1+T3+ subset, which under normal circumstances represents only approximately 20% of the NK cell population.

    PMID: 2824604
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  2. Daisymay

    Daisymay Senior Member

    In the same comment, Erik Johnson also posted this article about this research in the local Tahoe paper. I found a link for it on

    North Lake Tahoe Bonanza, November 16 1987

    “Incline Victims Show Cell Abnormalities”

    Tests Reveal New Clue in Fatiguing Illness

    by Chris Fotheringham NLTB Managing Editor

    Laboratory results published this week in a prestigious medical journal confirm that over 50% of Incline Village chronic fatigue patients tested have suffered “dramatic” abnormalities in their immune systems.

    Calling it the “most significant finding yet” in efforts to unravel the mystery of the widespread fatigue illness, Harvard researcher Dr. Anthony Komaroff said Monday the report published Sunday in the Journal of Immunology is the first scientific study that confirms “something is wrong with these people.”

    “It really is dramatic,” said Komaroff, who is chief of general medicine at a Harvard teaching hospital in Boston.

    The article, which underwent nearly 11 months of peer review before being published, was authored by Komaroff, Incline Village internist Dr.Daniel Peterson, and former Incline internist Dr Paul Cheney.

    Dr Michael Caligiuri, an immunologist with the Dana-Farber Cancer institute of the Harvard Medical Center, was the lead author for the article which was originally submitted for review in January.

    Komaroff says test results reveal an attack on the immune system’s “natural killer cell” which is the body’s primary means of killing virus-infected cells or cells that become cancerous.
    Komaroff said “There is a substantial reduction in the number of natural killer cells in patients tested.” He said the study has determined that this “major defense against virus infection and cancer” is damaged in over half of the test cases involving Incline Village patients.

    Komaroff first brought his team of researchers to Incline Village in February of 1986 after Incline doctors Cheney and Peterson had documented an outbreak of approximately 200 cases of mononucleosis-type illnesses in the North Tahoe and Truckee area beginning in the fall of 1985.

    While the Incline Village cluster of fatigue cases has drawn primary attention in the national media, researchers have found widespread occurrence of the illness throughout the country.

    See TESTS on page 9.
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