Vagus Nerve Stimulation Ameliorates Cognitive Impairment and Increased Hippocampal Astrocytes in a Mouse Model of Gulf War Illness. Academic Article uri icon


  • Gulf war illness (GWI), is a chronic multi-symptom illness that has impacted approximately one-third of the veterans who served in the 1990 to 1991 Gulf War. GWI symptoms include cognitive impairments (eg, memory and concentration problems), headaches, migraines, fatigue, gastrointestinal and respiratory issues, as well as emotional deficits. The exposure to neurological chemicals such as the anti-nerve gas drug, pyridostigmine bromide (PB), and the insecticide permethrin (PER), may contribute to the etiologically related factors of GWI. Various studies utilizing mouse models of GWI have reported the interplay of these chemical agents in increasing neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction. Astrocytes are involved in the secretion of neuroinflammatory cytokines and chemokines in pathological conditions and have been implicated in GWI symptomology. We hypothesized that exposure to PB and PER causes lasting changes to hippocampal astrocytes, concurrent with chronic cognitive deficits that can be reversed by cervical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS). GWI was induced in CD1 mice by injecting the mixture of PER (200 mg/kg) and PB (2 mg/kg), i.p. for 10 consecutive days. VNS stimulators were implanted at 33 weeks after GWI induction. The results show age-related cognitive alterations at approximately 9 months after exposure to PB and PER. The results also showed an increased number of GFAP-labeled astrocytes in the hippocampus and dentate gyrus that was ameliorated by VNS.

published proceedings

  • Neurosci Insights

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Venkatasamy, L., Nizamutdinov, D., Jenkins, J., & Shapiro, L. A.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Venkatasamy, Lavanya||Nizamutdinov, Damir||Jenkins, Jaclyn||Shapiro, Lee A

publication date

  • January 2021