Chronic neurobehavioral effects of acute sarin poisoning were evaluated in 9 male and 9 female patients who were exposed to sarin poisoning in the Tokyo subway incident in Japan. The investigators used nine neurobehavioral tests, as well as a posttraumatic stress disorder checklist, 6–8 mo after the poisoning occurred. Serum cholinesterase activity in patients on the day of poisoning (i.e., March 1995) ranged from 13 to 131 IU/I (mean = 72.1 IU/I). The results of analysis covariance, in which age, education level, alcohol consumption, and smoking status (covariates) were controlled in 18 sarin cases and in 18 controls, showed that the score on the digit symbol (psychomotor performance) test was significantly lower in the sarin cases than in controls. Nonetheless, the scores for the General Health Questionnaires, fatigue of Profile of Mood States, and posttraumatic stress disorder checklist were significantly higher in the sarin cases than controls. The investigators added posttraumatic stress disorder to the covariates, and only the score on the digit symbol test was significantly lower in sarin cases. In addition, the results of stepwise multiple regression analysis in 18 sarin cases revealed that scores for the General Health Questionnaires, fatigue of Profile of Mood States (i.e., fatigue, tension-anxiety, depression, and anger-hostility)—together with the paired-associate learning test—were associated significantly with posttraumatic stress disorder. The association did not remain significant for the digit symbol test score. Perhaps a chronic effect on psychomotor performance was caused directly by acute sarin poisoning; on the other hand, the effects on psychiatric symptoms (General Health Questionnaire) and fatigue (Profile of Mood States) appeared to result from posttraumatic stress disorder induced by exposure to sarin.
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