Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a complex disease with no known cause or mechanism. There is an increasing appreciation for the role of immune and metabolic dysfunction in the disease. ME/CFS has historically presented in outbreaks, often has a flu-like onset, and results in inflammatory symptoms. Patients suffer from severe fatigue and postexertional malaise. There is little known about the metabolism of specific immune cells in patients with ME/CFS. To investigate immune metabolism in ME/CFS, we isolated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from 53 patients with ME/CFS and 45 healthy controls. We analyzed glycolysis and mitochondrial respiration in resting and activated T cells, along with markers related to cellular metabolism and plasma cytokines. We found that ME/CFS CD8+ T cells had reduced mitochondrial membrane potential compared with those from healthy controls. Both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells from patients with ME/CFS had reduced glycolysis at rest, whereas CD8+ T cells also had reduced glycolysis following activation. Patients with ME/CFS had significant correlations between measures of T cell metabolism and plasma cytokine abundance that differed from correlations seen in healthy control subjects. Our data indicate that patients have impaired T cell metabolism consistent with ongoing immune alterations in ME/CFS that may illuminate the mechanism behind this disease.
Alexandra H. Mandarano, Jessica Maya, Ludovic Giloteaux, Daniel L. Peterson, Marco Maynard, C. Gunnar Gottschalk, Maureen R. Hanson
Study population characteristics and survey responses