Preliminary results from UK ME/CFS Biobank study presented at immunology conference in Chicago | 20 June 2017

June 20, 2017

Insights into the Immunology of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Professor Eleanor Riley was representing the UK ME/CFS Biobank at a major immunology conference in Chicago last week.

Other key speakers were Vicky Whittemore, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Elizabeth Unger, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mark Davis and Jose Montoya from Stanford University, and Ian Lipkin from Columbia.

Professor Riley was presenting preliminary results from an important longitudinal study that was carried out using blood samples from the UK ME/CFS Biobank and had been funded by a £1million grant from the National Institutes of Health in 2013.

The study has focused on NK cell function, virology (herpesvirus infection), and gene expression, and has provided further samples for the biobank to enable future ME/CFS research. We hope to hear from Professor Riley soon and to see the results officially published in the very near future.

A longitudinal immunological and virological study for ME/CFS biomarker discovery

Study Hypothesis

“ME/CFS is associated with immune dysfunction, which results from – or predisposes to – herpesvirus infections. Immune dysfunction will present as alterations in NK cell function that may lead to, or result from, alterations in cytokine production and altered expression of diverse immune-associated genes.”

“Finally, we predict that the ME/CFS immune phenotype may fluctuate over time and in association with clinical presentation and that the majority of patients clinically characterized as having ME/CFS will show a biosignature distinct from that of controls, and that further alterations will be seen during episodes of clinical exacerbation.”

Public Health Relevance

“This is, to our knowledge, the first longitudinal study of ME/CFS to incorporate both mild and severe cases, age, sex, and residence-matched Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and healthy controls, and to incorporate virological, immunological and gene expression data into the same study.”

“There is a clear need for research in these areas, and the inclusion of severe cases using home visits will allow for research on a subset of patients often neglected in ME/CFS studies.”

“Because approximately 1-4 million Americans have ME/CFS, this study has the potential to impact the lives of a large patient population in the US as well as advance the state of the field in the US, UK, and globally through the potential identification of evidence related to disease etiology and pathophysiology as well as disease subtypes and biomarkers, revealing potential routes for treatment.”

Study Recruitment

“150 ME/CFS cases (50 severe, 100 non-severe), 75 MS controls, and 75 healthy controls will be recruited. For immunology and virology, 100 cases, 50 MS controls, and 50 healthy controls will be sampled at 2 time points. For gene expression, we will analyze 50 ME/CFS cases, 25 MS and 25 healthy controls, each at recruitment and one follow-up.”

“Cases will be selected from UK ME/CFS Disease Register and NHS ME/CFS specialty and primary care services in London and Norfolk, Suffolk, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney, UK; MS controls via the NHS; and healthy controls will be identified by ME/CFS patients (excluding blood relatives) or GPs.”

More study information, here.

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