Researchers find evidence of DNA damage in veterans with Gulf War illness

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Researchers say they have found the "first direct biological evidence" of damage in veterans with Gulf War illness to DNA within cellular structures that produce energy in the body.
The findings appeared in the journal PLOS One in September 2017.

A study that focused on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) included 21 veterans with Gulf War illness (GWI) and seven controls.

In blood tests, researchers observed more lesions and more mitochondrial DNA—that is, extra copies of genes—in veterans with Gulf War illness, relative to controls without the illness, suggesting excess DNA damage. Lesion frequency gives a direct measure of DNA damage, while the increased number of mtDNA copies reflects a response to the damage.

Both lesion frequency and the number of mtDNA copies vary in response to environmental toxins and together provide a reading of overall mitochondrial health, according to lead researcher Dr. Mike Falvo, a health sciences specialist at the Veterans Affairs New Jersey Health Care System.  Researchers find evidence of DNA damage in veterans with Gulf War illness