Chronic Fatigue and Immune System Deficiency

03 Oct Chronic Fatigue and Immune System Deficiency

Is there a connection between stress of chronic fatigue and a dysfunctional immune system?  Research is being undertaken by Queensland scientists at the Griffith University to find out. Their research has identified a defective cell receptor in the immune system of people with chronic fatigue syndrome which they hope will lead to a definitive test for the disorder and eventually, an effective treatment.

According to Leeanne Enoch, Queensland Science Minister, this breakthrough allows us to think of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) as being “real” and no a psychological issue. It also opens some lines of inquiry for potential treatment options.  The researchers affirm that the “CFS and Myalgic Encephalomyelitis are notoriously difficult to diagnose, with sufferers often going for years without getting the proper care and attention they need. Currently, there is no effective treatment.” making this research significant in this area.

The website IFLScience recently reviewed this investigation.  They quoted Professor Sonya Marshall-Gradisnik who says “The transient receptor potential melastatin subfamily 3 (TRPM3) is one of the most primitive receptors in the body. It’s activated by a wide variety of agents, from bacteria and viruses to temperature and environmental factors such as perfumes. This diversity made it a logical suspect for a condition like CFS that has so many different triggers in different people. Marshall-Gradisnik also compared TRPM3 receptors in natural killer cells in blood taken from 15 people with CFS and 25 healthy controls, finding that TRPM3 levels were much lower in those with CFS. TRPM3 is an ion channel, controlling the way calcium ions are transmitted between cells and carrying instructions in the process. In some circumstances, CFS patients’ cells showed much higher calcium ion flux, providing a possible explanation for CFS symptoms.



Nguyen, T., Johnston, S., Clarke, L., Smith, P., Staines, D. and Marshall-Gradisnik, S. (2017), Impaired calcium mobilization in natural killer cells from chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis patients is associated with transient receptor potential melastatin 3 ion channels. Clin Exp Immunol, 187: 284–293. doi:10.1111/cei.12882

Luntz Stephen, People With Chronic Fatigue Have A Defective Channel In Immune System Cells IFLScience. Available online