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

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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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