Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Animals; Claudin-2 (metabolism); Disease Models, Animal; Dysbiosis (metabolism); Endotoxemia (metabolism); Frontal Lobe (metabolism); Gastrointestinal Microbiome (physiology); Gulf War; Inflammation (metabolism, microbiology); Intestinal Diseases (metabolism, microbiology); Intestinal Mucosa (metabolism); Intestines (microbiology); Male; Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Knockout; Persian Gulf Syndrome (metabolism, microbiology); Toll-Like Receptor 4 (metabolism)


Many of the symptoms of Gulf War Illness (GWI) that include neurological abnormalities, neuroinflammation, chronic fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbances have been traced to Gulf War chemical exposure. Though the association and subsequent evidences are strong, the mechanisms that connect exposure to intestinal and neurological abnormalities remain unclear. Using an established rodent model of Gulf War Illness, we show that chemical exposure caused significant dysbiosis in the gut that included increased abundance of phylum Firmicutes and Tenericutes, and decreased abundance of Bacteroidetes. Several gram negative bacterial genera were enriched in the GWI-model that included Allobaculum sp. Altered microbiome caused significant decrease in tight junction protein Occludin with a concomitant increase in Claudin-2, a signature of a leaky gut. Resultant leaching of gut caused portal endotoxemia that led to upregulation of toll like receptor 4 (TLR4) activation in the small intestine and the brain. TLR4 knock out mice and mice that had gut decontamination showed significant decrease in tyrosine nitration and inflammatory mediators IL1β and MCP-1 in both the small intestine and frontal cortex. These events signified that gut dysbiosis with simultaneous leaky gut and systemic endotoxemia-induced TLR4 activation contributes to GW chemical-induced neuroinflammation and gastrointestinal disturbances.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


© 2017 Alhasson et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

APA Citation

Alhasson, F., Das, S., Seth, R., Dattaroy, D., Chandrashekaran, V., & Ryan, C. et al. (2017). Altered gut microbiome in a mouse model of Gulf War Illness causes neuroinflammation and intestinal injury via leaky gut and TLR4 activation. PLOS ONE, 12(3).