2017 Ramsay Award Program Team 4

Immunometabolism of T cells and monocytes in ME/CFS

A project summary as written by Drs. Scheibenbogen and Sotzny:

Patients with Myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) suffer from a wide range of physical, neurocognitive and autonomic symptoms. There is a strong evidence for an impairment of the cellular metabolic function and dysregulation of the immune system in ME/CFS. More recently, different research groups uncovered severe metabolic alterations in ME/CFS patients (1-3). There is first evidence that a serum factor causes these metabolic alterations, which might be an autoantibody (3). We could show antibodies against adrenergic (AdR) and acetylcholine receptors (AchR) in a subset of patients with ME/CFS (4). Adrenergic and acetylcholinergic dysregulation may influence cellular metabolism.

The function of immune cells is highly dependent on energy metabolism and synthesis of proteins and lipids. Immunodeficiency or altered immune function is frequently found in ME/CFS. In this project we want to confirm and extend the findings from recent studies of altered metabolites in patients’ serum. The aim of our study is to analyze if the metabolism of T cells and monocytes is impaired in ME/CFS patients and correlates with impaired immune function. Further the suitability of a blood cell-based metabolic assays as potential diagnostic markers will be analyzed. The potential use of metabolic markers in plasma is hampered by the necessity to evaluate a larger number of metabolites for a disease specific profile. In this context we will investigate the relevance of adrenergic and acetylcholinergic stimulation on metabolic alterations as well. Taken together this project will contribute to the understanding of the underlying pathomechanism of ME/CFS and may promote the development of diagnostic markers and potential therapeutic strategies.