Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Study finds chronic abnormal brain blood flow in Gulf War veterans

Blood flow abnormalities found in the brains of veterans with Gulf War illness have persisted 20 years after the war, and in some cases have gotten worse, according to a new study published online in the journal Radiology.

"We confirmed that abnormal blood flow continued or worsened over the 11-year span since first being diagnosed, which indicates that the damage is ongoing and lasts long term," said principal investigator Robert W. Haley, M.D., chief of epidemiology in the Departments of Internal Medicine and Clinical Sciences at the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. "We also identified a special MRI procedure that better diagnoses and distinguishes between the three main types of Gulf War illness."

Gulf War illness is a poorly understood chronic condition associated with exposure to neurotoxic chemicals and nerve gas. It affects an estimated 25 percent of the 700,000 military personnel deployed to the 1991 Persian Gulf War, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' scientific advisory committee.

There are three main syndromes associated with Gulf War illness, producing a variety of symptoms, including fatigue, neuropathic pain, memory and concentration deficits, balance disturbances and depression.

The hippocampus is the part of the brain responsible for forming long-term memories and helping with spatial navigation. Many Gulf War illness neurological symptoms, such as memory loss, confusion, irritability and disorders in motion control suggest impairment of the hippocampus.

In 1998, Dr. Haley's research team published a study using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) to assess hippocampal blood flow in veterans with Gulf War Syndrome. For the current study, the researchers used a novel technique called arterial spin labeled (ASL) MRI to assess hippocampal regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 13 control participants and 35 patients with Gulf War syndromes 1 (impaired cognition), 2 (confusion-ataxia) and 3 (central neuropathic pain).

Each patient received intravenous infusions of saline in an initial session, and physostigmine in a second session 48 hours later. Physostigmine is a short-acting cholinesterase inhibitor, used to test the functional integrity of the cholinergic system, a neurotransmitter system involved in the regulation of memory and learning.

"ASL scanning after giving this medication is particularly well suited to diagnosing Gulf War illness, because it picks up brain abnormalities too subtle for regular MRI to detect," said co-author Richard W. Briggs, Ph.D., professor of radiology at UT Southwestern. "This allows us to make the diagnosis in a single two-hour session without the need for exposure to ionizing radiation."

The findings replicated the results of the initial SPECT study of largely the same group of veterans. The results showed that abnormal hippocampal blood flow persisted and may have progressed 11 years after initial testing and nearly 20 years after the Gulf War, suggesting chronic alteration of hippocampal blood flow.

Physostigmine significantly decreased rCBF in control participants and veterans with syndrome 1, but significantly increased rCBF in the right hippocampus of veterans with syndrome 2 in the original study. The abnormal increase in rCBF was now found to have progressed to the left hippocampus with syndrome 2 and to both hippocampi of the veterans with syndrome 3.

"Having an objective diagnostic test allows researchers to identify ill veterans for future clinical trials to test possible treatments," Dr. Haley said. "It is also critical for ongoing genomic studies to see why some people are affected by chemical exposures, and why others are not."

"Hippocampal Dysfunction in Gulf War Veterans: Investigation with ASL Perfusion MR Imaging and Physostigmine Challenge." Collaborating with Drs. Haley and Briggs on this paper were Xiufeng Li, Ph.D., Jeffrey S. Spence, Ph.D., David M. Buhner, M.D., M.S., John Hart Jr., M.D., C. Munro Cullum, Ph.D., Melanie M. Biggs, Ph.D., Andrea L. Hester, Ph.D., Timothy N. Odegard, Ph.D., and Patrick S. Carmack, Ph.D. The study was funded by a federal research contract administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, and grants from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command and the National Institutes of Health.

Radiology is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (

RSNA is an association of more than 46,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (

For patient-friendly information on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), visit

Linda Brooks | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Diagnoses: When Are Several Opinions Better Than One?
19.07.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung

nachricht High in calories and low in nutrients when adolescents share pictures of food online
07.04.2016 | University of Gothenburg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>