DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - CONGRESSIONALLY DIRECTED MEDICAL RESEARCH PROGRAMS

Posted August 11, 2021

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A new special issue of Life Sciences focuses on Gulf War illness (GWI) research, primarily resulting from a joint U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DOD) Gulf War Illness State of the Science (GWI-SOTS) virtual conference held in August 2020. GWI is a syndrome characterized by multiple, diverse symptoms that typically include chronic widespread pain, headaches, cognitive difficulties, debilitating fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, respiratory symptoms, sleep problems, and other abnormalities that cannot be explained by established medical diagnoses or standard laboratory tests. The population of Veterans affected by GWI is a subset of the nearly 700,000 U.S. Warfighters who served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

The special issue, currently available online, features over 30 research articles, many presented at the conference as well as research finalized after the conference. Research topics covered in the special issue include GWI pathobiology, diagnostic biomarkers and treatments, as well as GWI Veterans’ perceptions of disease management strategies and development of research resources. Some of the articles are open access and freely available to download.

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Highlights from select studies published in the issue include:

  • Reduced consumption of glutamate was associated with significantly reduced TNF-α and IL-1β; a low glutamate diet appears to reduce inflammatory cytokines in Veterans with GWI. (Holton, et al.)
  • Women Gulf War Veterans who report deployment-related exposures to pesticides, oil well fires, and pyridostigmine bromide (PB) pill use are significantly more likely to meet the Kansas case definition criteria for GWI. (Krengel, et al.)
  • The Gulf War Illness Clinical Trials and Interventions Consortium (GWICTIC), based at Nova Southeastern University, brings together a multidisciplinary team of researchers across several institutions to provide scientific innovation, statistical and computational rigor, and logistical efficiency in the development and implementation of early-phase clinical trials of treatments for GWI. (Cheema, et al.)
  • Symptomatic Gulf War Veterans require more neural resources to sustain cognitive performance during nociceptive (sensory) stress compared to healthy controls. (Lindheimer, et al.)
  • Aerosolized Gulf War toxins induced gross lung pathology, macrophage accumulation and pulmonary inflammation in an animal model of GWI. These insults continued in the absence of toxin exposure, suggesting that they may contribute to the immunopathology of respiratory GWI. (Powers, et al.)

Commenting on the Life Sciences special issue, managing guest editor Dr. Dane B. Cook, professor of kinesiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, stated that “[t]here are several themes woven throughout, such as Veteran satisfaction and needs from the healthcare system and the recognition that multiple biological systems likely interact, perhaps in unique ways, to impact the heterogeneous disease collectively referred to as GWI.”

Special issue guest editor, Dr. Michael Falvo from the VA’s War Related Illness and Injury Study Center said, “When partnering with a well-respected journal like Life Sciences (Impact Factor: 5.04; CiteScore: 5.3) that has an international audience, we can elevate both the awareness and interest in Gulf War illness research.”

Link to the Special Issue: https://www.sciencedirect.com/journal/life-sciences/special-issue/10SZ4N88FRB

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Last updated Wednesday, August 11, 2021