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J R Army Med Corps. 2015 Jun;161(2):153-5. doi: 10.1136/jramc-2014-000345. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Acquired immunodeficiency similar to Gulf War illness in a dead former serviceman.

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Department of Diagnostic and Clinical Medicine and of Public Health, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena (MO), Italy.
Institute of Science and Technology for Ceramics, National Research Council, Faenza (RA), Italy.
Provincial Health Care Services, Santa Maria del Carmine Hospital, Rovereto (TN), Italy.


A 38-year-old non-commissioned officer was certified unfit for military duty several months before his death. The forensic autopsy revealed a severe bone marrow aplasia and a pulmonary angioinvasive aspergillosis. Moreover, the presence of inorganic foreign particles in the pulmonary macrophages and intestinal endothelia was observed. The microanalysis implemented on these last selected specimens revealed the presence of silica particles microimpregnated by lanthanides and steel. The patient's acquired immunodeficiency appears comparable with that of Iraqi civilians suffering from Gulf War illness. This is the first report in the literature of the presence of intestinal endothelia engulfed by foreign war particulates; the silica particles may have entered the intestinal endothelia via the blood stream or by ingestion of impregnated fruit and vegetable foodstuffs. This finding provides new perspectives in the assessment of war-associated diseases and includes electron probe microanalysis among the new techniques of military and forensic medicine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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