Friday, July 15, 2011

Univ. of Colorado Researchers Find New Link Between Gulf War Illness and Organophosphate Pesticide


Contact: Donald C Cooper

Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder have made an important step in Understanding Gulf
War Syndrome.

Neuroscientist Donald Cooper, Ph.D. and his team found that a common organophosphate insecticide used in the Gulf War was capable of changing neuronal activity in a rodent brain region, known as the Locus Coeruleus, a brain region that is critical for attention, anxiety, and addiction.

Their paper, released in Nature Precedings, is the first report describing how exposure to the toxic metabolite of the insecticide, chlorpyrifos leads to lasting changes in neuronal activity that persist long after exposure.

These researchers have previously shown similar changes in neuronal signaling to be similar to those that follow withdrawal from heroin and morphine and would likely produce similar states of anxiety, discomfort and memory problems.

The paper is available in Nature Precedings and was funded, in part, by the University of Texas, Southwestern Medical center and the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Gulf War Syndrome: A role for organophosphate induced plasticity of locus coeruleus neuron

Jun-li Cao, Andrew L. Varnell & Donald C. Cooper
Gulf War syndrome is a chronic multi-symptom illness that has affected about a quarter of the deployed veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Exposure to prolonged low-level organophosphate insecticides and other toxic chemicals is now thought to be responsible. Chlorpyrifos was one commonly used insecticide.  The metabolite of chlorpyrifos, chlorpyrifos oxon, is a potent irreversible inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, much like the nerve agent Sarin. 
To date, the target brain region(s) most susceptible to the neuroactive effects of chlorpyrifosoxon have yet to be identified.  To address this we tested ability of chlorpyrifos oxon to influence neuronal excitability and induce lasting changes in the locus coeruleus, a brain region implicated in anxiety, substance use, attention and emotional response to stress. Here we used an ex vivo rodent model to identify a dramatic effect of chlorpyrifos oxon on locus coeruleus noradrenergic neuronal activity. 
Prolonged exposure to chlorpyrifos oxon caused acute inhibition and a lasting rebound excitatory state expressed after days of exposure and subsequent withdrawal. 
Our findings indicate that the locus coeruleus is a brain region vulnerable to chlorpyrifos oxoninduced neuroplastic changes possibly leading to the neurological symptoms affecting veterans of the Gulf War.


Waiting said...

There are lots of studies similar to this one that are presenting a strong case for brain and mitochondrial damage in Gulf War veterans.

This is some amazing research but what will the VA do with it? I'd happily volunteer for any sort of experimental treatment program if it would let me function normally without all the pain and taking 10 different medications trying to control it all.

By time the VA acknowledges the research and puts together a treatment program, most of us Gulf War vets will be down for the long dirt nap.

This is not to mention the VA dragging their feet and fighting Gulf War (and OEF/IEF) vets on the presumptive issues for Gulf War Illness.

I'm not sure how long or how many times the VA will have to be hit over the head with studies like these but I pray they listen and act soon.

Anonymous said...

the university of stupid people conducted a study that shows the blue sky may be linked to GWI...further research is about this, if it didnt make the locals sick then it probably wasnt the cause!!

Waiting said...

The locals also weren't made to take pyridostigmine bromide pills and given insecticides full of DEET and other fun stuff.

Anonymous said...

One reason that the pesticides infected gi's over locals is because they put in into the GI clothing and bedding.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately it is not possible to know the extent of health problems of the local Iraqi population because they have poor access to health care and large gaps in epidemiological data on these types of neurological issues. It is true that deployed soldiers were exposed to insecticides in their tents and clothing in addition to pyridostigmine bromide and in some cases sarin itself. Those that were exposed to these conditions report the most serious impairments. The proper comparison to determine whether exposure to these chemicals played a role is to look at deployed and nondeployed soldiers.

Anonymous said...

The VA facility in Fl.where I get my health care at still would even say the words Gulf War Illness but they will talk about treating my symptoms.
I think they have been told to stay away from having an open discussion about this illness. For the VA it's the "Third Rail".

Waiting said...

I've noticed the same implied taboo about saying "Gulf War Illness" at my VA in OR as well. It makes me feel like they still aren't acknowledging that this is something very real for quite a lot of us.

The studies that are coming out now are pointing pretty clearly at mitochondrial damage from a combination of insecticides, PB pills and some of the other toxic exposures we faced. The damage is irreversible and we are left with nothing but trying to control the symptoms even as they get progressively worse as we age.

If this was "Kindergarten Illness" and everyone's kids were getting sick from this sort of thing, the whole country would be up in arms. Since its happening to veterans from a war that is 20 years in the past, no one gives a crap.

It sucks.