Increased neutrophil apoptosis in chronic fatigue syndrome

J Clin Pathol. 2004 Aug;57(8):891-3. doi: 10.1136/jcp.2003.015511.


Background/aims: Many patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) have symptoms that are consistent with an underlying viral or toxic illness. Because increased neutrophil apoptosis occurs in patients with infection, this study examined whether this phenomenon also occurs in patients with CFS.

Methods: Apoptosis was assessed in patients with CFS in conjunction with concentrations of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, transforming growth factor beta1 (TGFbeta1).

Results: The 47 patients with CFS had higher numbers of apoptotic neutrophils, lower numbers of viable neutrophils, increased annexin V binding, and increased expression of the death receptor, tumour necrosis factor receptor-I, on their neutrophils than did the 34 healthy controls. Patients with CFS also had raised concentrations of active TGFbeta1 (p < 0.005).

Conclusions: These findings provide new evidence that patients with CFS have an underlying detectable abnormality in their immune cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Annexin A5 / metabolism
  • Apoptosis
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / blood
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / immunology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / complications*
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neutrophils / immunology*
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor / analysis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / blood


  • Annexin A5
  • Biomarkers
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta