Autoimmunity Highlights

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Natural killer cells in patients with severe chronic fatigue syndrome

  • E. W. Brenu
  • S. L. Hardcastle
  • G. M. Atkinson
  • M. L. van Driel
  • S. Kreijkamp-Kaspers
  • K. J. Ashton
  • D. R. Staines
  • S. M. Marshall-Gradisnik


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.


Chronic fatigue syndrome Natural killer cells Cytotoxicity Perforin Granzymes 

Supplementary material

13317_2013_51_MOESM1_ESM.docx (29 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 29 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. W. Brenu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • S. L. Hardcastle
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. M. Atkinson
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. L. van Driel
    • 3
  • S. Kreijkamp-Kaspers
    • 4
  • K. J. Ashton
    • 4
  • D. R. Staines
    • 2
    • 3
  • S. M. Marshall-Gradisnik
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Griffith Health Institute, School of Medical ScienceGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  2. 2.The National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging DiseasesGriffith UniversityGold CoastAustralia
  3. 3.Queensland Health, Gold Coast Public Health UnitRobina, Gold CoastAustralia
  4. 4.Faculty of Health Sciences and MedicineBond UniversityRobinaAustralia
  5. 5.Immunology Research Group, Centre for Medicine and Oral HealthGriffith UniversitySouthportAustralia

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