Increased neutrophil apoptosis in chronic fatigue syndrome
Apoptosis is the programmed destruction of unwanted cells in the body. It is an important process which removes cells that have reached the end of their natural life, as well as controlling infections. Apoptosis is carried out by white blood cells called neutrophils, which are part of the immune system.
From measuring levels of various chemical markers in their blood, patients with ME/CFS were found to have abnormally high rates of apoptosis, as well as a lower number of functioning neutrophils, than healthy people of the same age.
These findings may have been caused either by a persistent viral infection or by a quicker than normal turnover of neutrophils. Either way, they represent a significant, detectable abnormality in the immune system of patients with ME/CFS.