What is it about?

Gulf War Illness refers to chronic health issues that affects 30% of United States soldiers deployed during the First Gulf War (1990-1991). Exposure to organophosphate chemicals (pesticides and nerve gas sarin) is thought to be responsible for this condition. In this paper, we have developed a rat model of Gulf War Illness. By mimicking organophosphate exposure, we show that these rats exhibit brain damage and chronic behavioral problems of depression, anxiety, and memory difficulties similar to First Gulf War Veterans.

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Why is it important?

Using this rat model of Gulf War Illness we can probe mechanisms responsible for the development of this syndrome. This will help us identify newer therapies for the effective treatment of neurological problems associated with Gulf War Illness. It has been 25 years since the completion of the First Gulf War, and the Veterans suffering from Gulf War Illness still don't have good treatment options. This model can also act as a screening tool for identifying novel drugs for treating Gulf War Illness.


A simple model that shows Gulf War Illness related neurological problems can arise in the presence of only one of the many purported causative factors from the Iraqi War theater. This work shows that a low-dose DFP exposure to mimic the accidental nerve gas exposure from war time can produce long-term neurobehavioral problems. Survivors of Tokyo sub-way Sarin attack also show related symptoms. Implications are that Syrians who were attacked with Sarin gas may face similar long-term ill-health issues.

Dr. Laxmikant Deshpande
Virginia Commonwealth University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Repeated low-dose organophosphate DFP exposure leads to the development of depression and cognitive impairment in a rat model of Gulf War Illness, NeuroToxicology, January 2016, Elsevier, DOI: 10.1016/j.neuro.2015.11.014.
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