NK Cell Activation Theory

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by Slayadragon, Dec 27, 2006.

  1. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    I've been reading a book about the immune system, which is slightly frustrating since it keeps talking about how "mysterioius" NK Cells are. (No wonder we're not getting anywhere, if nobody understands the bodily function that's at the root of our problem. But never mind.)

    I also looked up some info in our archives about people who have had NKC activity measured. The ranges of the five people who answered one post were between 3 and 15. Mine is 4. The norm is supposed to be 19 or higher.

    I think maybe that if there's a high level of viral activity, it would be expected that NK Cells become more active in order to help out. (Apparently NK Cell activation of 50 or higher is considered well within range.)

    My tests show a huge amount of interferon alpha-serum, which I think is supposed to be telling the NK Cells that there is problem and that they need to wake up. Obviously my NK Cells either are totally deaf or are _dead_ asleep, since they're not responding to the alarm clock.

    I'm getting a little off track though. My basic question is this:

    Most of us with CFS seem to have low NKC activation. I wonder if this was true before we "got sick" though.

    Possibility 1:

    Something happened during that pivotal moment in our lives that encouraged NK Cells to go dormant permanently. (I'm not sure what that thing would have been.)

    Possibility 2:

    Our NK Cells were always less activated than they should be, but that in the first part of our lives other parts of the immune system compensated for deficit.

    However, at some point, our bodies weakened substantially to the point where lots of stuff was able to sneak in under the radar.

    Since NK Cells are especially good at seeking out invaders (maybe even when they're hiding), perhaps our problem is that we have since been unable to ditch our deep-seated viral problems in the way that other people with normal NK Cells would.


    I like Possibility 2 a lot more. Maybe it's the case that people can function okay for long periods of time with "lazy" NK Cells as long as huge amounts of infestations has not _already_ occurred.

    If so, then maybe if we could get rid of the stuff that's already in there with anti-virals and then try very hard not to let our bodies get that stressed again, we could go back to doing okay again.

    For example, one of the reports in the archives cited an FFC nurse who--I guess just for fun--had her NK Cell levels tested and found that they were about at my very low level. That nurse was feeling perfectly fine, without any CFS treatments.

    The argument was made that since that was the case, NK Cell activation is a red herring (e.g. doesn't matter much). But if Possibility 2 is correct, what it actually should mean is that the nurse should be really careful not to stress herself too much, since otherwise she will end up in the same quagmire as us.

    Despite things like larch bark (Ambrotose) and mushrooms (ImmPower), I don't see anything on the horizon that's going to bring our NK Cell activity up to normal.

    I thus hope it's possible for us to figure out a way to become healthy even though the NK Cell activity remains broken. If it's true that we were healthy during the first part of our lives even though the NK Cell activation was low, I feel much more encouraged.


    On another front, if we did have low NK Cell counts before "getting sick," that would suggest that CFS could be predicted in healthy people just by doing the test.

    This would be useful since perhaps such individuals would be able to prevent becoming actively ill by taking preventive measures.....in my case, avoiding getting the head injury or resting more afterwards or not getting pregnant when I was still recovering from it, or giving my body some sort of special support when these things happened.

    If I had children, I would want to test them for NK Cell activity.....unless someone told me for sure that NK Cell activity becomes screwed up at a particular point in time rather than is innately screwed up, of course.

    Maybe someone has the answers to these questions and my theorizing is just wasting time. If people do have the answers they don't seem to be sharing, though.

    I'm not getting into the other identified CFS immune problem, Rnase, of course. The immune system component works as a team, but starting with main effects and then moving to interactions seems a lot less confusing than trying to understand the whole thing at once.
  2. Catseye

    Catseye Member

    Hi Lisa, I think all we can do is keep on with different combinations of nutrients and supplements until our bodies get what they need. The body knows better than any scientist what it needs. You made me think of something else, though. In 500 years, I'm convinced medicine will be largely preventative and we will have our blood drawn yearly or more and constantly compared with our old samples and what substance levels (of NK cells and every other component of blood) are healthy. The doctor will then go to a "mixing machine" kind of like a paint color machine, and push buttons of what we need and a preventative remedy, composed largely of nutrients and antioxidants, will spill into a jar, custom made for us at that particular time.

    I wish I had gotten my blood drawn every year I was alive. Then I could at least have narrowed down when I got the hep c and all my current "normal" blood levels compared to what they were "before". I would know, for example, if my throid hormone was a little lower than before, not just within an "acceptable range".

    Maybe everybody should have their children's blood drawn every year and detailed tests and counts done and the results kept for when they REALLY get sick. This comparison could be really useful.

    For right now, though, we are the "supplement pioneers" so we at least have a fighting chance of fixing our broken bodies.


  3. elliespad

    elliespad Member

    The closest I have come to this with my children, was to insist on Thyroid levels being drawn at a young age (maybe 5) and then periodically until age 18. So at least they each have 2 or 3 tests showing what "their" levels were, when they were young. Don't know that it will ever help them, but that's what I did.
  4. virtuoso

    virtuoso New Member

    I've been diagnosed with CFS for over 15 years now, but I've never been tested for my NK Cell Activity, so I can not contribute much to this discussion.

    I've been tested posite though during all this time for ANA. I was just wondering if anybody knows if this would have any effect on my NK Cell activity.

    I'm planning to ask my doctor for the actual test the next time I see him, but in the meanwhile I would appreciate any information.

    Thank you

  5. Daisys

    Daisys Member

    Theory #3: An unknown virus destroys, or disables the Nk cells, or the process of activating them.

    There may well be an inherited component to it, I wouldn't be surprised. But it also has proven to spread in communities not related to each other, so there's some infectious process involved.
  6. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    Interesting discussion. Japan recognizes CFS as a NK killer cell dysfunction.

    The tidbits I've read on NK cells are as follows:

    Don't eat chocolate while having CFS (viral replication) unless you have had your NK killer cell levels tested. Unless they are in the higher range, avoid chocolate.

    Mushroom extracts are supposedly helpful in increasing NK cells, although this hasn't been substantially proven.
    (Why do these mushroom extracts make me feel more tired and worse?)

    It would be nice if the CDC allocated research funds to find out more about NK killer cell function. I wonder what research the Japanese have done? This may be a point of inquiry.

    Just my thoughts.

  7. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member


    I think it's possible there's an unknown virus kicks in at a particular time, after which we get sick. (That's one of the somethings that might have happened that I mention in Possibility 1.)

    Cheryl Sue:

    Both of the things that I've tried that are supposed to have the biggest effects on NK Cell activity have made me tired also.

    Ambrotose (the larch tree stuff....generic name arabagalactin or something similar) makes me sleepy and tired for discrete amounts of time. I've only used it for about five days though.

    ImmPower (the mushroom stuff sold on this board and popular in Japan) made me extremely tired and vaguely feverish when I used it for about two months earlier in my illness. Finally (especially since it was very expensive), I gave up on it.

    I'm not sure why those reactions occur. One possibility is that they're actually working and causing our bodies to kill something, and that in killing those things we're getting a herx. There could be other possibilities too though.

    It would be interesting to try going on one of those supplements and then re-testing to see just how much my NK Cell activity (if at all) went up.

    I'm thinking maybe those kinds of supplements might be more helpful when the body is in good shape. (I'm thinking for me it would be after I've established on anti-virals, but for you it could conceivably be once you are no longer in relapse.)

    If there's a huge amount of stuff to kill off, maybe a moderate lift in NK Cell activation wouldn't put a dent in it. But if there's less, maybe it would be helpful.

    If I knew more information, it would be easier to come up with a comprehensive game plan. As it is, I feel like I'm just throwing stuff at the wall randomly.
  8. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    Thanks for posting the article on the garlic. I don't know whether it's doing anything, but I've been taking it every day since then.

    Eventually I will get my NK Cell activity tested again. It will be interesting to see if there's any movement based on it and other things that I may be adding.
  9. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    I just read Debbie's (dahopper) post on her trip yesterday to the FFC. Her doc is recommending the new supplement EPICOR, and I just checked on it at another site.

    EPICOR is supposed to help with NK killer cell function. I've also inquired about the research report, and hope to receive that online.

    I guess I am going to order some today. ($39.95) I spend more $ on supplements than doctors!

  10. z2rus

    z2rus New Member

    You can not build such theories directly from the top of your head. That is not basic question and unfortunately requires a lot of science.

    To simplify direct answer for you question why NK cell function are low is – they suppressed by some specific metabolite here it is kynurenic acid tryptophan metabolite. Why it is produced in excess from tryptophan which essential for brain serotonin production? The only inducible biochemical pathway is via IDO. So where IDO comes from? It is primary found in proinflamatory cytokines. And what triggers inflammation? Actually nobody knows for sure, otherwise the problem of CFS has been solved. Many endogenous body substances has capabilities to trigger proinflamatory cytokines secretion – find the right reason and CFS is over.
    Though it explains nothing but suppression of NK cells produced by natural immune system regulation by different part of immune system. It is like a fuse box and working.

    In summary FactorX->inflammatory cytokines->IDO up regulation->tryptophan degradation though kynurenic pathway->NK cells suppression.

    You want more scientific basis. I have some.
    ABSTRACT Tryptophan (Trp) catabolism mediated by indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO) plays a central role in the regulation of T cell-mediated immune responses. In this study we demonstrate that also NK cell function can be influenced by IDO. Indeed, L-kynurenine, a Trp-derived catabolite resulting from IDO activity, was found to prevent the cytokine-mediated up-regulation of the expression and function of specific triggering receptors responsible for the induction of NK cell-mediated killing. The effect of L-kynurenine appears to be restricted to NKp46 and NKG2D, while it does not affect other surface receptors such as NKp30 or CD16. As a consequence, L-kynurenine-treated NK cells display impaired ability to kill target cells recognized via NKp46 and NKG2D. Instead, they maintain the ability to kill targets, such as Dendritic Cells (DC), that are mainly recognized via the NKp30 receptor. The effect of L-kynurenine, which is effective both at the transcriptional and at the protein level, can be reverted, since NK cells were found to recover their functional competence after washing.

    Blood, 15 December 2006, Vol. 108, No. 13, pp. 4118-4125.
    Prepublished online as a Blood First Edition Paper on August 10, 2006; DOI 10.1182/blood-2006-03-006700.

    P.S And by the way I see no reason for drugs tweaking NK cells (guess what will happened?) unless you have some serious infection issues.

  11. cherylsue

    cherylsue Member

    Check out this research studies video at the Embria Health website. It is in segments and runs for about 30 minutes.

    This Ph.D doctor has impressive credentials. The product is a derivative of Brewers Yeast.

    Debbie daphopper's FFC doctor sings its praises.

    And it does boost NK killer cell activity.

    Lisa: When you see Dr. Guyer, ask him if he knows anything about it. It's rather new.

    [This Message was Edited on 12/28/2006]
    [This Message was Edited on 12/28/2006]
  12. Slayadragon

    Slayadragon New Member

    So your theory suggests the Possibility #1 is correct---that some unknown event happens at some point in our lives, causing a chain of events that result in low NK Cell activity.

    I'm going to have to look at the theory more to see if you think that NK Cell activity is a major problem or just a minor effect though.

    In the meantime, I'm of the impression that all of us have major infections at all times. (Certainly my immune system tests suggest that I do.) What makes you think that's not the case?

    I will look into your comments and references at some point in then near future. Thanks for sharing them.

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