Identifying Objective Diagnostic Markers of Gulf War Illness: Salivary and Plasma Autoantibodies Against Neural Proteins Validated with Brain Imaging.
The major goal of this proposal is to use our newly developed serum, plasma and saliva biomarkers for GWI and to confirm them as representing CNS functions by correlating them with MRI brain imaging. We believe that exposure to various chemical agents may have compromised the blood-brain barrier (BBB) over the years leading to various immune responses. We hypothesized that these initiate neural damage resulting in loss of neural cells and the cellular debris entering the fenestrated BBB into circulation, which can mount an auto-immune response. Since we developed an assay system to quantify the neural-specific autoantibodies in plasma and saliva, we proposed to compare the MRI brain scans to determine the extensiveness of the neural damage and its relatability to blood/saliva-based biomarkers for nervous system injury. The focus of the study is to identify peripheral biomarkers of central nervous system damage in GWI and to attempt to identify causative factors for this chronic illness and other similar illnesses including chronic fatigue syndrome.