Gulf War Illness (GWI) is estimated to have affected about one third of the Veterans who participated in the first Persian Gulf War. The symptoms of GWI include chronic neurologic impairments, chronic fatigue syndrome, as well as fibromyalgia and immune system disorders, collectively referred to as chronic multi-symptom illness. Thirty years after the war, we still do not have an effective treatment for GWI. It is necessary to understand the molecular basis of the symptoms of GWI in order to develop appropriate therapeutic strategies. Cellular energetics are critical to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, a process that is highly dependent on intact mitochondrial function and there is significant evidence from both human studies and animal models that mitochondrial impairments may lead to GWI symptoms. The available clinical and pre-clinical data suggest that agents that improve mitochondrial function have the potential to restore cellular energetics and treat GWI. To date, the experiments conducted in animal models of GWI have mainly focused on neurobehavioral aspects of the illness. Additional studies to address the fundamental biological processes that trigger the dysregulation of cellular energetics in GWI are warranted to better understand the underlying pathology and to develop new treatment methods. This review highlights studies related to mitochondrial dysfunction observed in both GW veterans and in animal models of GWI.
Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier B.V.