Natural killer cells and natural killer cell activity in chronic fatigue syndrome

Am J Med. 1998 Sep 28;105(3A):27S-34S. doi: 10.1016/s0002-9343(98)00155-7.


Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is associated with insidious and persistent immunologic abnormalities that have proved difficult to reproduce. The heterogeneity of CFS, the variable quality of immunologic assays and their performance, along with an almost complete absence of longitudinal studies of cellular immune abnormalities in CFS may explain this difficulty. However, in a significant proportion of cases, low levels of natural killer (NK) cell activity have been reported. This article will explore the mechanisms responsible for low NK cell activity, discuss the relation between levels of NK cell activity and health/disease, describe new findings on NK cell-brain interactions, and put forth a specific hypothesis for the role of NK cells in the pathogenesis of CFS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Killer Cells, Natural*