Evidence of Hippocampal Structural Alterations in Gulf War Veterans With Predicted Exposure to the Khamisiyah Plume

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Abstract

Objectives:

To replicate and expand our previous findings of smaller hippocampal volumes in Gulf War (GW) veterans with predicted exposure to the Khamisiyah plume.

Methods:

Total hippocampal and hippocampal subfield volumes were quantified from 3 Tesla magnetic resonance images in 113 GW veterans, 62 of whom had predicted exposure as per the Department of Defense exposure models.

Results:

Veterans with predicted exposure had smaller total hippocampal and CA3/dentate gyrus volumes compared with unexposed veterans, even after accounting for potentially confounding genetic and clinical variables. Among veterans with predicted exposure, memory performance was positively correlated with hippocampal volume and negatively correlated with estimated exposure levels and self-reported memory difficulties.

Conclusions:

These results replicate and extend our previous finding that low-level exposure to chemical nerve agents from the Khamisiyah pit demolition has detrimental, lasting effects on brain structure and function.

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