Cardiovascular and Neurovascular Regulation in GWI

Autonomic Dysfunction, Brain Blood Flow and Cognitive Decline in Veterans With Gulf War Illness


Lead Sponsor: University of Wisconsin, Madison

Collaborator: United States Department of Defense

Source University of Wisconsin, Madison
Brief Summary

Brain blood flow regulation and autonomic dysfunction will be measured in Veterans with and without Gulf War Illness who served in the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991.

Detailed Description

Gulf War Illness (GWI) is a multi-symptom illness with unknown etiology. GWI is a leading cause of disability in Gulf War Veterans. Cognitive complaints are a common symptom of GWI, which suggests the brain is involved in the development of this condition. As Veterans age, these cognitive complaints may worsen and be compounded by the aging process. GWI may be a condition of "accelerated" brain aging. Therefore, there may be long-term consequences of GWI, and the presence of GWI may increase a person's risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease (AD) or other dementias. In comparison to other brain-related diseases such as stroke, relatively little is known about GWI and how this condition impacts the normal age-related changes in the brain. The research aims are: 1. To determine if Veterans with Gulf War Illness demonstrate abnormal brain blood flow regulation and autonomic dysfunction when compared with Veterans without Gulf War Illness. 2. To determine if brain blood flow and autonomic nervous system variables in Veterans are associated with other markers of brain aging that are relevant to cognitive decline.

Overall Status Not yet recruiting
Start Date December 2020
Completion Date June 2024
Primary Completion Date June 2023
Study Type Observational
Primary Outcome
Measure Time Frame
Brain blood flow measured using Transcranial Doppler ultrasound Baseline
Brain blood flow measured using MRI Baseline
Sympathetic nerve activity Baseline
Enrollment 70

Intervention Type: Device

Intervention Name: MRI

Description: Participants will undergo an MRI scan while participating in a breathing test to measure brain blood flow.

Intervention Type: Device

Intervention Name: Transcrainal Doppler Ultrasound

Description: Participants will undergo a TCD scan while participating in a breathing test to measure brain blood flow.

Intervention Type: Other

Intervention Name: Sympathetic Nerve Activity

Description: Participants will undergo sympathetic nerve activity testing while participating in a breathing test.


Sampling Method: Non-Probability Sample


Inclusion Criteria: - Deployed to the Persian Gulf between 1990-1991 - Body mass <300 lbs - Diagnosis of Gulf War Illness based on CMI/CDC and Kansas definitions or No diagnosis of Gulf War Illness Exclusion Criteria: - History or evidence of: diabetes, neurological disease, cancer treatment, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, bipolar disorder, psychotic disorders, mood disorders - Current illicit substance use or partial remission for less than 1 year - Taking multiple sedatives or anticonvulsant medications - Currently pregnant - Absolute contraindications to exercise testing - Contraindications to MRI - Other significant medical conditions at investigator's discretion

Gender: All

Minimum Age: 45 Years

Maximum Age: 65 Years

Healthy Volunteers: Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Overall Official
Last Name Role Affiliation
Jill N Barnes, PhD Principal Investigator University of Wisconsin, Madison
Overall Contact

Last Name: Jill N Barnes, PhD

Phone: 608-262-1654

Email: [email protected]

Verification Date

October 2020

Responsible Party

Type: Sponsor

Has Expanded Access No
Arm Group

Label: Veterans with GWI

Description: Veterans with GWI who served in the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991

Label: Veterans without GWI (Controls)

Description: Veterans without GWI who served in the Gulf War between 1990 and 1991

Patient Data No
Study Design Info

Observational Model: Case-Control

Time Perspective: Prospective