The Persian Gulf Syndrome generally manifests as a set of nonspecific complaints with emphasis on central nervous system impairment. The purpose of this study was to determine if cognitive performance and middle cerebral artery blood flow velocity (MCABFV) were altered in symptomatic Gulf War veterans (sGWVs) and asymptomatic Gulf War veterans (aGWVs) by exposure to low levels of acetone. MCABFV was assessed in male aGWVs (n=8) and sGWVs (n=8) during cognitive challenges while breathing 1) clean air, 2) a clean air placebo, and 3) a mixture of air and 40 parts per million (ppm) acetone. Pulmonary function was also evaluated. Pulmonary function tests showed no statistical differences between aGWVs and sGWVs while breathing clean air or 40 ppm acetone in air. Cognitive performance was similar during the clean air, placebo, and acetone test conditions for sGWVs and aGWVs. Data pooled across test conditions for each group indicated a statistically significant (P <0.05) poorer performance primarily in memory and executive function tasks by sGWVs. sGWVs had a 34.2% higher baseline MCABFV than aGWVs (P <0.05). Increases in MCABFV for aGWVs (averaged over all cognitive tasks for each test condition) ranged between 7.8% and 8.8%, and were not statistically significant. Increases for sGWVs ranged between 0.3% and 4.8%, averaged over all cognitive tasks for each test condition. No significant differences were noted between the clean air and placebo test conditions but both were significantly different compared to the acetone condition. Differences in MCABFV increases for each of the test conditions between aGWVs and sGWVs were also statistically significant. sGWV did not appear to demonstrate pulmonary dysfunction following exposure to acetone. They did, however, appear to have generally lower cognitive function as compared to aGWVs. sGWVs appeared to have a significant degree of autoregulatory disruption in cerebral perfusion, resulting in reduced cognitive reserve capacity and potentially impaired ability to handle complex cognitive tasks.
- blood flow
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis