Background: Gulf War Illness (GWI) impacts 25-30% of gulf war veterans. Due to its heterogeneity
in both etiology and symptoms, it has been challenging to establish the commonly accepted
case definition for GWI. Equally challenging are the understanding of the general mechanism of GWI
and the development of biomarkers useful for its clinical diagnosis and treatment.
Objective: We have observed that chromosome condensation defects can be detected in GWI patients.
To document this phenomenon in GWI, we aim to describe and compare different types of chromosomal
condensation defects in GWI patients, if possible. Since chromosomal condensation represents
an important step of ensuring genome integrity, condensation defects could be used as a potential
biomarker of GWI.
Methods: Lymphocytes from GWI patients have been used for short term cell culture followed by
chromosome slide preparation. Both Giemsa staining and multiple color spectral karyotyping (SKY)
were applied to study chromosome aberrations, focusing on different types of condensation defects.
Results: At least three subtypes of Defective Mitotic Figures (DMFs) were observed. Some individuals
displayed elevated frequencies of DMFs. Another type of condensation defect identified as sticky
chromosomes were also observed.
Conclusion: Various types of condensation defects have been observed in GWI patients. It is rather
surprising that some GWI patients exhibited a high level of chromosomal condensation defects. Previously,
the elevated frequency of DMFs was only observed in cancer patients. Since chromosome condensation
can be linked to other types of chromosome aberrations, as well as cellular stress conditions,
the detailed mechanism and clinical impact should be further studied, especially with increased sample