Gulf War Syndrome (GWS) is a multisystemic illness afflicting many Gulf War-era veterans. The molecular pathological basis for GWS has not been established. We sought to determine whether the presence of antibodies to squalene correlates with the presence of signs and symptoms of GWS. Participants in this blinded cohort study were individuals immunized for service in Desert Shield/Desert Storm during 1990-1991. They included 144 Gulf War-era veterans or military employees (58 in the blinded study), 48 blood donors, 40 systemic lupus erythematosus patients, 34 silicone breast implant recipients, and 30 chronic fatigue syndrome patients. Serum antibodies to squalene were measured. In our small cohort, the substantial majority (95%) of overtly ill deployed GWS patients had antibodies to squalene. All (100%) GWS patients immunized for service in Desert Shield/Desert Storm who did not deploy, but had the same signs and symptoms as those who did deploy, had antibodies to squalene. In contrast, none (0%) of the deployed Persian Gulf veterans not showing signs and symptoms of GWS have antibodies to squalene. Neither patients with idiopathic autoimmune disease nor healthy controls had detectable serum antibodies to squalene. The majority of symptomatic GWS patients had serum antibodies to squalene.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.