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Environ Health Perspect. 1998 Feb;106 Suppl 1:85-109.

Integrated defense system overlaps as a disease model: with examples for multiple chemical sensitivity.

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Grantham's Landing, British Columbia, Canada.


The central nervous, immune, and endocrine systems communicate through multiple common messengers. Over evolutionary time, what may be termed integrated defense system(s) (IDS) have developed to coordinate these communications for specific contexts; these include the stress response, acute-phase response, nonspecific immune response, immune response to antigen, kindling, tolerance, time-dependent sensitization, neurogenic switching, and traumatic dissociation (TD). These IDSs are described and their overlap is examined. Three models of disease production are generated: damage, in which IDSs function incorrectly; inadequate/inappropriate, in which IDS response is outstripped by a changing context; and evolving/learning, in which the IDS learned response to a context is deemed pathologic. Mechanisms of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) are developed from several IDS disease models. Model 1A is pesticide damage to the central nervous system, overlapping with body chemical burdens, TD, and chronic zinc deficiency; model 1B is benzene disruption of interleukin-1, overlapping with childhood developmental windows and hapten-antigenic spreading; and model 1C is autoimmunity to immunoglobulin-G (IgG), overlapping with spreading to other IgG-inducers, sudden spreading of inciters, and food-contaminating chemicals. Model 2A is chemical and stress overload, including comparison with the susceptibility/sensitization/triggering/spreading model; model 2B is genetic mercury allergy, overlapping with: heavy metals/zinc displacement and childhood/gestational mercury exposures; and model 3 is MCS as evolution and learning. Remarks are offered on current MCS research. Problems with clinical measurement are suggested on the basis of IDS models. Large-sample patient self-report epidemiology is described as an alternative or addition to clinical biomarker and animal testing.

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