(Natural News) Gulf War Illness (GWI), or Gulf War Syndrome, is the name given to a cluster of chronic symptoms affecting Gulf War veterans and civilian workers. The cause behind these symptoms — which range from fatigue to joint pains to memory problems — has been studied and debated on for the longest time. Yet scientists from Rutgers Medical School and the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System may have found an another potential answer, and lingering effect of this conflict; one that lies in mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).
According to lead researcher Michael J. Falvo, the idea for looking into the mitochondria came shortly after he joined the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System. There, he learned that numerous Gulf War veterans had unexplained symptoms throughout many areas of their bodies. “To me, that sounded awfully consistent with the symptoms of mitochondrial disorders. After reviewing the literature, I realized at that time there was no published study on GWI that investigated whether mitochondrial dysfunction contributed to symptoms,” explained Falvo.
As part of their study, Falvo and his colleagues recruited 28 participants: 21 veterans who had GWI, and three veterans without GWI, and four non-veterans who served as the control group. Blood samples were collected from each participant, which were then analyzed using a revolutionary technique that allowed the researchers to study the mtDNA without having to isolate it from total DNA.
They discovered that the veterans with GWI had more mtDNA and a greater number of lesions, implicating an overabundance of DNA damage. As stated on ScienceDaily.com, the lesions were direct measures of DNA damage, while the extra copies of mtDNA were reflections of the body’s response to the damage.