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Chemical sensitivities & the Gulf War: Department of Veterans Affairs Research Center in basic & clinical science studies of environmental hazards

  [ 32 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • August 10, 1996

The purpose of the New Jersey Center for Environmental Hazards
Research is to define the illness referred to as Persian Gulf
Syndrome (PGS). Our preliminary data indicated that more than
half of the Persian Gulf Registry (PGR) veterans reported
illness characterized by severe fatigue and symptoms
consistent with chemical sensitivities. Therefore, our
research approach focuses on investigations of veterans with
chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and multiple chemical
sensitivities (MCS). Project 1 is an epidemiological study of
2800 PGR veterans. Symptoms, indices of Chronic Fatigue (CF)
and Chemical Sensitivity (CS), and risk factors will be
surveyed with mailed questionnaires. Risk factors include
demographics, past medical history, psychosocial variables,
Gulf War experiences such as prophylactic medication use,
occupational and environmental exposures, and pesticide
exposures. Symptoms will be clustered to define Gulf War
Syndromes. Significant associations between risk factors and
these symptom clusters will also be investigated Subjects
identified as CF, CS, or both will be recruited into Projects
2 and 3. In Project 2, healthy veterans will be compared to
veterans with CF, CS, and CF concurrent with CS. Veterans
will undergo four studies: (1) viral-immunological, (2)
psychiatric, psychological, behavioral, and
neuropsychological, (3) autonomic dysregulation, and (4)
marker of P4501A2 induction resulting from exposure to
combusting material. The purpose of Project 3 is to test the
autonomic, immunologic, neuropsychologic, and psychologic
responses of veterans with CS or CF to two stressors:
controlled chemical exposure and exercise. CS subjects will
undergo chemical exposures in our Controlled Environment
Facility (CEF) to assess their biologic and psychologic
response to low-level exposure. CF subjects will undergo a
maximal treadmill exercise test. Circadian patterns of
catecholamines and axillary temperature, viral burden, and
cardiovascular and endocrine reactivity will be measured in
response to this physical stressor. Project 4 is an animal
study evaluating the interaction between stress and
pathology/physiology when rats are predisposed to disease by
exposure to Soman or to Dioxin. Two strains of rats that
differ in stress reactivity will be used to determine the
interaction of hereditary factors and chemical exposure.

Fiedler N, Kipen H, Natelson B, Ottenweller J

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