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Significant alterations in peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets in patients with somatoform disorder

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Pedrosa Gil F, Schwarz MJ, Müller N, Nickel M, Ridout N, Schmidmaier R. Significant alterations in peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets in patients with somatoform disorder. Objective: 

Previous studies have suggested that somatoform disorders (SFD) might be associated with changes in the function of the central and autonomic nervous systems. The aim of this study was to examine the possible immunological differences between SFD and healthy controls. Methods: 

Twenty-four patients with SFD and 13 healthy individuals completed the psychological questionnaires to assess symptom reporting [Symptom Checklist-90 Revised (SCL-90-R)] and to diagnose for SFD [Screening for Somatoform Symptoms scale (SOMS-scale)]. Participants also provided a blood sample taken in the morning, which was analysed with an automated cell counter to determine the number of leucocytes per l and with flow cytometry to determine lymphocyte subsets. Results: 

With the exception of a higher T4/T8 ratio in the patient group, which was mainly because of lower CD8 counts, there were no significant differences in the absolute number of lymphocytes (subsets) between patients with SFD and healthy subjects. A positive correlation between B-lymphocyte subsets (CD19+CD22+, CD19+CD5+, CD19+CD3−) to all scales of the SCL-90-R, except somatisation, were found in SFD. Additionally, a positive correlation was found in SFD between CD14+CD16+ monocytes and somatisation (0.573) on the SCL-90-R scale. Conclusion: 

These data indicate that patients with SFD have an enhanced humoral immunity as shown by increased B-cell numbers and furthermore an elevated T4/T8 ratio because of lower CD8 suppressor cells. Further studies will be required to determine whether these alterations in lymphocyte subsets are directly involved in the pathophysiology of SFD.

Keywords: comorbidity; depression; psychiatric disorders; psychoneuroimmunology

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Hospital of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany 2: University Clinic for Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Medical University Graz, Bad Aussee, Austria 3: Clinical and Cognitive Neurosciences Institute, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK 4: Department of Haematology and Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine Innenstadt, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2007

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