Leo Sher, M.D.
Ten years ago, a research report, “Twenty-four hour plasma cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone in Gulf War Veterans: Relationships to posttraumatic stress disorder and health symptoms” was published (1). The paper was published in a November 2007 issue of Biological Psychiatry (1).
The authors examined the baseline functioning of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) in Gulf War veterans. Gulf War Veterans with current PTSD, Gulf War Veterans without current or lifetime PTSD, and healthy nondeployed subjects not exposed to the Gulf War underwent psychiatric and medical evaluation followed by blood sampling every half-hour over 24 hours. Cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) blood levels were measured.
The authors suggest that the main finding of this study is that veterans of the Gulf War without PTSD or another psychiatric disorder have substantially lower ACTH levels and an elevated cortisol:ACTH ratio in comparison to nondeployed veterans. The authors also observed that chronic postdeployment health symptoms and PTSD have different HPA axis correlates in Gulf War veterans. The authors conclude that there are persistent, clinically significant alterations in the HPA axis in Gulf War veterans.
1.Golier JA, Schmeidler J, Legge J, Yehuda R. Twenty-four hour plasma cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone in Gulf War veterans: relationships to posttraumatic stress disorder and health symptoms. Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Nov 15;62(10):1175-8.