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Neurobehavioral properties of chemical sensitivity syndromes

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Chemical sensitivity Syndromes refers to aggregations of symptoms

marked by largely subjective neurobehavioral complaints and

hypothesized links to immune system dysfunction. The entities

reviewed here consist of the Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

Syndrome, the Sick Building Syndrome, the Chronic Fatigue

Syndrome, and the Gulf War Syndrome. Except for the Chronic

Fatigue Syndrome, toxic chemical exposures are accorded a

significant role in their etiology. The connections are

ambiguous because of the variety of chemical agents cited and,

for the most part, the relatively low levels at which

exposures occur. Conventional clinical signs are also

typically lacking. Explanatory mechanisms include psychiatric

diagnoses such as somatization, behavioral mechanisms such as

conditioning and generalization, neuropharmacological

mechanisms such as sensitization, and psychoneuroimmunological

mechanisms such as those involving the

hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Laboratory animal

experimentation and controlled clinical trials, especially

with inhaled material, provide the means for exploring the

proffered explanations.

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