1998 Clinical and Scientific Meeting

I Hauspie [1], I Campine [2], P. De Becker [2], E. Van Steenbege [2], S. Van Impel,
K. De Meirleir [2] and M. Kirsch-Volders [1]

1 Dept. of Human Genetics - Vrije Unversiteit Brussel, Belgium
2 Dept. of Human Physiology, Vrije Unversiteit Brussel, Belgium

Study of T-Lymphocyte Response of CFS Patients After Treatment with Different Mutagens

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is an illness characterised by generalised disabling fatigue associated with complaints of a physical and neuropsychiatric nature. This disorder presents dilemmas for diagnosis, aetiology, pathology and treatment.

Mild to severe abnormalities have been identified eg. in the immune and endocrine system and often these patients present symptoms caused by different organ system dysfunctions.

Many studies on CFS-patients suggest a viral-triggered onset, associated with an abnormal immune function. Several viral infections, among which entero-, retro- and herpes virus infections are frequently mentioned in association with the onset of CFS. Yet no particular ethio-pathogenetic virus could be identified in these patients.

Taking into account the recent findings about the role of viral proteins in taking over the control of cell proliferation, our aim was to test cell proliferation in both CFS-patients and healthy controls in physiologic conditions and after treatment with different mutagens. Since alcohol intolerance is one of the clinical characteristics of CFS, we examined the effect of ethanol exposure on T-lymphocytes in vitro.

Human lymphocytes from 8 patients and 14 controls were cultured in the presence and absence of (co-) mutagens (methylmethanesulphonate, cyclophosphamide and ethanol). Using the cytokinesis blocked micronucleus assay it was possible to assess the proliferation index as well as chromosomal aberrations.

The preliminary results show that:

  1. The proliferation index of CFS patients (in the absence of a mutagen) is slightly lower than those of control persons.
  2. CFS patients show more spontaneous damage during cell division than control persons.
  3. In the absence of S9 (an enzyme extract from rat liver) the cell division is reduced in the presence of ethanol in CFS patients.
  4. Non-dividing cells of CFS patients show no damage after administration of ethanol.
  5. Ethanol induces damage in dividing T-lymphocytes of CFS patients in the absence of S9. When S9 is administered at the moment of treatment, this damage does not occur.
  6. Cyclophosphamide induces damage in dividing cells of CFS patients and control persons.
  7. CFS patients seem to be more resistant to treatment with MMS than control persons.
  8. Preliminary results of a dosis-effect study after treatment with different concentrations of MMS using the COMET assay will be presented.


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