Residual effects of the 1990-1991 Gulf War (GW) still plague veterans 30 years later as Gulf War Illness (GWI). Thought to stem mostly from deployment-related chemical overexposures, GWI is a disease with multiple neurological symptoms with likely immunological underpinnings. Currently, GWI remains untreatable, and the long-term neurological disease manifestation is not characterized fully. The present study sought to expand and evaluate the long-term implications of prior GW chemicals exposure on neurological function 6-8 months post GWI-like symptomatology induction. Additionally, the beneficial effects of delayed treatment with the glycan immunotherapeutic lacto-N-fucopentaose III (LNFPIII) were evaluated. Male C57BL/6J mice underwent a 10-day combinational exposure (i.p.) to GW chemicals, the nerve agent prophylactic pyridostigmine bromide (PB) and the insecticide permethrin (PM; 0.7 and 200 mg/kg, respectively). Beginning 4 months after PB/PM exposure, a subset of the mice were treated twice a week until study completion with LNFPIII. Evaluation of cognition/memory, motor function, and mood was performed beginning 1 month after LNFPIII treatment initiation. Prior exposure to PB/PM produced multiple locomotor, neuromuscular, and sensorimotor deficits across several motor tests. Subtle anxiety-like behavior was also present in PB/PM mice in mood tests. Further, PB/PM-exposed mice learned at a slower rate, mostly during early phases of the learning and memory tests employed. LNFPIII treatment restored or improved many of these behaviors, particularly in motor and cognition/memory domains. Electrophysiology data collected from hippocampal slices 8 months post PB/PM exposure revealed modest aberrations in basal synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation in the dorsal or ventral hippocampus that were improved by LNFPIII treatment. Immunohistochemical analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), a dopaminergic marker, did not detect major PB/PM effects along the nigrostriatal pathway, but LNFPIII increased striatal TH. Additionally, neuroinflammatory cells were increased in PB/PM mice, an effect reduced by LNFPIII. Collectively, long-term neurobehavioral and neurobiological dysfunction associated with prior PB/PM exposure was characterized; delayed LNFPIII treatment provided multiple behavioral and biological protective effects in the context of GWI, highlighting its potential as a GWI therapeutic.
Jessica M Carpenter, Kyle A Brown, Alexa N Diaz, Rachel L Dockman, Robert A Benbow, Donald A Harn, Thomas Norberg, John J Wagner, Nikolay M Filipov. Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2021 Jul 10;107012. doi: 10.1016/j.ntt.2021.107012.