Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
Gulf war illnesses (GWI) are currently affecting thousands of veterans. To date, the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of these illnesses remain unknown. During Gulf war I, military personnel were exposed to multiple stressors, one or more vaccines, pyridostigmine (PY), and other chemicals. In our previous studies, we found that stress induces activation of mitogen activated protein-kinase kinase 4 (MKK4) and c-Jun-N-terminal kinase (JNK) in the mouse brain (Liu et al. 2004). Our working hypothesis is that stress, vaccination, and PY may synergistically induce activation of MKK4 and JNK in the brain, leading to over-activation of these kinases and neurological injuries. To test our hypothesis, we examined the effect of keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH) immunization alone or in combination with PY on activation of MKK4 and JNK induced by stress. We found that KLH immunization alone had a small effect on MKK4 or JNK activity but it significantly enhanced and prolonged activation of these kinases induced by stress, from a few hours to several days. Additionally, KLH immunization caused activation of p38MAPK. PY treatment further enhanced and prolonged activation of these kinases induced by stress in combination with KLH immunization and triggered activation of caspase-3. Our current studies suggest that stress, vaccination, and PY may synergistically act on multiple stress-activated kinases in the brain to cause neurological impairments in GWI.
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