Linking Gulf War Illness to Genome Instability, Somatic Evolution, and Complex Adaptive Systems

  • Henry H. HengEmail author
  • Guo Liu
  • Sarah Regan
  • Christine J. Ye


Gulf War illness (GWI) is a chronic multi-symptom disorder impacting one-third of veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Despite a rapid accumulation of experimental data from various fields, there is no commonly accepted mechanism of this condition. Both the complex etiology and diverse symptoms of GWI have complicated its clinical diagnoses and treatments. By comparing GWI to many other common and complex diseases, we realized that a better way to study GWI is to consider it as a complex adaptive system that follows the principles of somatic evolution. In this presentation, we share our story of identifying the “Gulf War-specific-stress-induced” and “genome instability-mediated” common mechanisms of GWI. Our analyses are useful for explaining the linkage between the diverse features of GWI and elevated genome instability, which further suggest a possible framework of genome alteration-mediated somatic evolution to understand common and complex diseases in general.



This article is part of a series of studies entitled “The mechanisms of somatic cell and organismal evolution.” This work was supported by a grant from the DOD (GW093028).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Henry H. Heng
    • 1
    Email author
  • Guo Liu
    • 2
  • Sarah Regan
    • 2
  • Christine J. Ye
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and Department of PathologyWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  2. 2.Center for Molecular Medicine and GeneticsWayne State University School of MedicineDetroitUSA
  3. 3.The Division of Hematology/Oncology, Department of Internal Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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