Gulf War Illness-associated increases in blood levels of interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein: Biomarker evidence of inflammation

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Objective: Gulf War Illness is a chronic multisymptom disorder severely impacting the health and well-being of many Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War. Symptoms that define the disease include pain, fatigue, mood and memory impairments, gastrointestinal problems, lung disorders, and skin rashes. In our previous biomarker study, we discovered Gulf War Illness-associated proinflammatory blood biomarkers. Therefore, we hypothesized that chronic inflammation causes the symptoms that define this disorder. Testing the chronic inflammation hypothesis is the objective of this study. Results: The biomarker fingerprint of Gulf War Illness is the end-product of a cascade of proinflammatory cytokine signals. In particular, the observed increase in C-reactive protein predicts a corresponding increase in interleukin 6, the cytokine that stimulates hepatocytes to produce C-reactive protein. Therefore, in this study we measured potential upstream cytokine signals in plasma samples from Gulf War Veterans. As predicted, a positive correlation between interleukin 6 and C-reactive protein was observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number816
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 18 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Gulf War Illness Inflammation Reduction Trial (Department of Defense, Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Program, GW130025) and Biomarkers of Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses: Tissue Factor, Chronic Coagulopathy, and Inflammation (Department of Defense, Congressionally-Directed Medical Research Program, GW080080) to RRB. Dietary Fat Effect on Brain Immune Response and Inflammation (VA Merit Review, BX004146), Rodent model of systemic immune activation to study cognitive impairment in Gulf War illness (Center for Veterans Research and Education) and VA Shared Equipment Evaluation Program Request for a multi-array electrochemiluminescence biomarker assay reader (VA Merit Review, 1IS1BX004808-01) to TAB. VA Merit Review, I01 BX000760 to LHS.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s).


  • Biomarkers
  • C-reactive protein
  • Case-control study
  • Chronic inflammation
  • Chronic multisymptom illness
  • Gulf War Illness
  • Interleukin 6
  • Proinflammatory cytokines


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