Genomics of Gulf War Illness in U.S. Veterans Who Served during the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War: Methods and Rationale for Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study #2006.
BACKGROUND: Approximately 697,000 members of the U.S. Armed Forces were deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War (GW). Subsequently, many deployed and some non-deployed veterans developed a chronic multi-symptom illness, now named Gulf War Illness (GWI). This manuscript outlines the methods and rationale for studying the genomics of GWI within the Million Veteran Program (MVP), a VA-based national research program that has linked medical records, surveys, and genomic data, enabling genome-wide association studies (GWASs). METHODS: MVP participants who served in the military during the GW era were contacted by mail and invited to participate in the GWI study. A structured health questionnaire, based on a previously tested instrument, was also included in the mailing. Data on deployment locations and exposures, symptoms associated with GWI, clinical diagnoses, personal habits, and health care utilization were collected. Self-reported data will be augmented with chart reviews and structured international classification of disease codes, to classify participants by GWI case status. We will develop a phenotyping algorithm, based on two commonly used case definitions, to determine GWI status, and then conduct a nested case-control GWAS. Genetic variants associated with GWI will be investigated, and gene-gene and gene-environment interactions studied. The genetic overlap of GWI with, and causative mechanisms linking this illness to, other health conditions and the effects of genomic regulatory mechanisms on GWI risk will also be explored. CONCLUSIONS: The proposed initial GWAS described in this report will investigate the genomic underpinnings of GWI with a large sample size and state-of-the-art genomic analyses and phenotyping. The data generated will provide a rich and expansive foundation on which to build additional analyses.
Radhakrishnan, K; Hauser, ER; Polimanti, R; Helmer, DA; Provenzale, D; McNeil, RB; Maffucci, A; Quaden, R; Zhao, H; Whitbourne, SB; Harrington, KM; Vahey, J; Gelernter, J; Levey, DF; Huang, GD; Gaziano, JM; Concato, J; Aslan, M
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