Immunologic status correlates with severity of physical symptoms and perceived illness burden in chronic fatigue syndrome patients

Stacy E. Cruess, Michael H. Antoni, Nancy Klimas, Kevin Maher, Mary Ann Fletcher, Lynn Helder, Robert Keller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to investigate the relationship between immunologic status and physical symptoms in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patients. Twenty-seven patients diagnosed with CFS were included. Participants completed a questionnaire including selected subscales of the Sickness Impact Profile, the Cognitive Difficulties Scale, and frequency and severity of CFS-related physical symptoms. Cellular immune markers measured included number and percent of T-helper/inducer cells (CD3+CD4+), T-cytotoxic/suppressor cells (CD3+CD8+), activated T-lymphocytes (CD26+CD2+CD3+), activated T cytotoxic/suppressor cells (CD38+HLA-DR+CD8+), and CD4/CD8 ratio. Spearman's correlation coefficients revealed significant associations between a number of immunologic measures and severity of illness suggesting that the degree of cellular immune activation was associated with the severity of CFS-related physical symptoms, cognitive complaints, and perceived impairment secondary to CFS. Specifically, elevations in T-helper/inducer cells, activated T-cells, activated cytotoxic/suppressor T-cells, and CD4/CD8 ratio were associated with greater severity of several symptoms. Furthermore, reductions in T-suppressor/cytotoxic cells also appeared related to greater severity of some CFS-related physical symptoms and illness burden. Multiple regression analyses demonstrated that decreased percentage of CD3+CD8+ cells and increased number of CD38+HLA-DR+CD8+ cells were the strongest predictors of total illness burden and fatigue severity, accounting for almost 30% of the variance in these measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-52
Number of pages14
JournalJournal Of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000


  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Immune activation
  • Symptom severity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology


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