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Elevated plasma biomarkers of chronic inflammation in Gulf War illness

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By Gerhard Johnson et al.

Abstract

As many as 200,000 veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War suffer from unexplained chronic multisymptom illnesses collectively known as Gulf War Illness (GWI). Symptoms of GWI may include muscle and joint pain, unexplained fatigue, and cognitive impairment. The etiology of GWI is undetermined, and no effective treatment has been defined.

Objective: To determine if blood abnormalities exist in veterans with GWI that could lead to the identification of potential therapeutic targets. 

Methods: Eighty-five gulf war veterans were enrolled. Subjects with GWI were identified by standard (CDC-10) criteria. Data derived from subjects with GWI (58) were compared to those without GWI (27). Multi-Analyte Profiling of plasma proteins was performed and analyzed by the Mann-Whitney rank sum test.

Results: Five of 89 proteins were significantly elevated (p<0.05) in the GWI subjects: C-reactive protein (CRP) (1.75-fold), leptin (1.67-fold), interleukin-1 beta (1.66-fold), brain-derived neurotropic factor (1.59-fold), and matrix metalloproteinase-9 (1.14-fold). The 14 individuals in this study with the highest CRP levels, as much as 10-fold above the median, were all in the GWI group.

Conclusion: The biomarker evidence is consistent with activation of the innate immune system. It supports the hypothesis that chronic inflammation is a component of GWI pathophysiology.

Source: Gerhard Johnson, Billie Slater, Linda Leis, and Ronald Bach. Elevated plasma biomarkers of chronic inflammation in Gulf War illness. The FASEB Journal vol. 28 no. 1 Supplement 591.3, April 2014

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