Natural killer cells in patients with severe chronic fatigue syndrome
Maintenance of health and physiological homeostasis is a synergistic process involving tight regulation of proteins, transcription factors and other molecular processes. The immune system consists of innate and adaptive immune cells that are required to sustain immunity. The presence of pathogens and tumour cells activates innate immune cells, in particular Natural Killer (NK) cells. Stochastic expression of NK receptors activates either inhibitory or activating signals and results in cytokine production and activation of pathways that result in apoptosis of target cells. Thus, NK cells are a necessary component of the immunological process and aberrations in their functional processes, including equivocal levels of NK cells and cytotoxic activity pre-empts recurrent viral infections, autoimmune diseases and altered inflammatory responses. NK cells are implicated in a number of diseases including chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). The purpose of this review is to highlight the different profiles of NK cells reported in CFS patients and to determine the extent of NK immune dysfunction in subtypes of CFS patients based on severity in symptoms.