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Persian Gulf War and Neurological Disorders

Alan J. Robinson robin073 at maroon.tc.umn.edu
Fri Nov 17 13:00:37 EST 1995

On 9 Nov 1995 02:25:18 GMT, 
Becky Caprano  <kaddy at ix.netcom.com > wrote:
>I am interested in any information concerning research on neurological
>disorders of veterans of the Persian Gulf War. 

Gulf War Syndrome, with its many different types of symptomatic 
manifestations, including neurological symptoms, is quite similar to 
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FMS), and 
Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS).  This similarity is one avenue 
being explored by investigators.

However, many of these symptoms are the general symptoms of disease, 
(Hans Selye's "syndrome of just being sick") so it isn't as 
informative as it looks on the surface.  It's probably more a 
reflection of the genetic predisposition for these medical conditions, 
rather than a pointer to specific etiology or pathogenesis.  (The 
range of physical symptoms appears to be significantly affected by 

The pathophysiology of these conditions seems to be associated with 
reduced cerebral blood flow and possibly reduced levels of the brain 
modulatory monoaminergic neurotransmitters (dopamine, norepinephrine, 
and serotonin).  Not very much is known about this sort of 
pathophsyiology because of the difficulty of experimenting on living 
human brains.  The technique of reverse microdyalysis in laboratory 
animals has only recently come into use - I'm only aware of its use in 
investigations into alcoholism.

It's now believed that these conditions can be triggered by a wide 
variety of causes in susceptible individuals.  The $64 question is why 
the symptoms don't go away after a reasonable period of time.  Two 
theories that have been advanced are chronic viral infection, esp. of 
the CNS, and non-reversible neurological damage.  However, no solid 
evidence has been found for these theories in the great majority of 
patients despite intensive investigation.


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