Do Gulf War veterans with high levels of deployment-related exposures display symptoms suggestive of Parkinson’s disease?
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University of California, San Francisco, USA (Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging)
University of California, San Francisco, USA (Department of Psychiatry)
San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, USA (Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases)
Online publication date: 2019-07-04
Corresponding author
Linda L. Chao   

San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Center for Imaging of Neurodegenerative Diseases, 4150 Clement Street, 114M, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(4):503-26
Objectives: Veterans of the 1991 Gulf War (GW) were exposed to a myriad of potentially hazardous chemicals during deployment. Epidemiological data suggest a possible link between chemical exposures and Parkinson’s disease (PD); however, there have been no reliable data on the incidence or prevalence of PD among GW veterans to date. This study included the following 2 questions: 1. Do deployed GW veterans display PD-like symptoms? and 2. Is there a relationship between the occurrence and quantity of PD-like symptoms, and the levels of deployment-related exposures in GW veterans? Material and Methods: Self-reports of symptoms and exposures to deployment-related chemicals were filled out by 293 GW veterans, 202 of whom had undergone 3 Tesla volumetric measurements of basal ganglia volumes. Correlation analyses were used to examine the relationship between the frequency of the veterans’ self-reported exposures to deployment-related chemicals, motor and non-motor symptoms of PD, and the total basal ganglia volumes. Results: Healthy deployed GW veterans self-reported few PD-like non-motor symptoms and no motor symptoms. In contrast, GW veterans with Gulf War illness (GWI) self-reported more PD-like motor and non-motor symptoms, and more GW-related exposures. Compared to healthy deployed veterans, those with GWI also had lower total basal ganglia volumes. Conclusions: Although little is known about the long-term consequences of GWI, findings from this study suggest that veterans with GWI show more symptoms as those seen in PD/prodromal PD, compared to healthy deployed GW veterans. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 2019;32(4):503–26
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