Abstract

Growing numbers of “electromagnetic hypersensitive” (EHS) people worldwide self-report severely disabling, multiorgan, non-specific symptoms when exposed to low-dose electromagnetic radiations, often associated with symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and/or other environmental “sensitivity-related illnesses” (SRI). This cluster of chronic inflammatory disorders still lacks validated pathogenetic mechanism, diagnostic biomarkers, and management guidelines. We hypothesized that SRI, not being merely psychogenic, may share organic determinants of impaired detoxification of common physic-chemical stressors. Based on our previous MCS studies, we tested a panel of 12 metabolic blood redox-related parameters and of selected drug-metabolizing-enzyme gene polymorphisms, on 153 EHS, 147 MCS, and 132 control Italians, confirming MCS altered –0.0001) glutathione-(GSH), GSH-peroxidase/S-transferase, and catalase erythrocyte activities. We first described comparable—though milder—metabolic pro-oxidant/proinflammatory alterations in EHS with distinctively increased plasma coenzyme-Q10 oxidation ratio. Severe depletion of erythrocyte membrane polyunsaturated fatty acids with increased ω6/ω3 ratio was confirmed in MCS, but not in EHS. We also identified significantly altered distribution-versus-control of the CYP2C19*1/*2 SNP variants in EHS, and a 9.7-fold increased risk (OR: 95% C.–74.5) of developing EHS for the haplotype (null)GSTT1 + (null)GSTM1 variants. Altogether, results on MCS and EHS strengthen our proposal to adopt this blood metabolic/genetic biomarkers’ panel as suitable diagnostic tool for SRI.

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