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Research article

Impaired natural immunity, cognitive dysfunction, and physical symptoms in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome: preliminary evidence for a subgroup?

Journal: J Psychosom Res. 2006 Jun;60(6):559-566.

Authors: Siegel SD, Antoni MH, Fletcher MA, Maher K, Segota MC, Klimas N.

Affiliation: Behavioral Medicine Research Center, Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Miami, FL, USA.

NLM Citation: PMID: 16731230

OBJECTIVE: The diagnostic criteria of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) define a heterogeneous population composed of several subgroups. Past efforts to identify subgroup markers have met with mixed success. This study was designed to examine natural killer cell activity (NKCA) as a potential subgroup marker by comparing the clinical presentations of CFS patients with and without clinically reduced NKCA.

METHODS: Forty-one female CFS patients were classified into having either low or normal NKCA levels. These subgroups were then compared on objective measures of cognitive functioning and subjective assessments of fatigue, vigor, cognitive impairment, and daytime dysfunction.

RESULTS: Relative to CFS patients in the normal-NKCA subgroup, low-NKCA patients reported less vigor, more daytime dysfunction, and more cognitive impairment. In addition, low-NKCA patients performed less on objective measures of cognitive functioning relative to normal-NKCA patients.

CONCLUSIONS: The results are offered as preliminary evidence in support of using NKCA as an immunological subgroup marker in CFS. Findings are also discussed in terms of known associations between dysregulated immune functions, somatic symptoms, and psychological stress.

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