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Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome: A Principal Component Analysis Of Symptoms

Saturday 19 September 2020


From the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (via MDPI):



Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome: A Principal Component Analysis of Symptoms

By Antonio Del Casale, Stefano Ferracuti, Alessio Mosca, Leda Marina Pomes, Federica Fiaschè, Luca Bonanni, Marina Borro, Giovanna Gentile, Paolo Martelletti, and Maurizio Simmaco

Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6551;

Received: 21 July 2020 / Revised: 3 September 2020 / Accepted: 7 September 2020 / Published: 9 September 2020

© 1996-2020 MDPI (Basel, Switzerland) unless otherwise stated.


Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) is a chronic and/or recurrent condition with somatic, cognitive, and affective symptoms following a contact with chemical agents whose concentrations do not correlate with toxicity in the general population. Its prevalence is not well defined; it mainly affects women between 40 and 50 years, without variations in ethnicity, education and economic status. We aimed to assess the core symptoms of this illness in a sample of Italian patients. Two physicians investigated different symptoms with a checklist compilation in 129 patients with MCS (117 women).

We conducted a categorical Principal Component Analysis (CATPCA) with Varimax rotation on the checklist dataset. A typical triad was documented: hyperosmia, asthenia, and dyspnoea were the most common symptoms. Patients also frequently showed cough and headache.

The CATPCA showed seven main factors: 1, neurocognitive symptoms; 2, physical (objective) symptoms; 3, gastrointestinal symptoms; 4, dermatological symptoms; 5, anxiety-depressive symptoms; 6, respiratory symptoms; 7, hyperosmia and asthenia. Patients showed higher mean prevalence of factors 7 (89.9%), 6 (71.7%), and 1 (62.13%).

In conclusion, MCS patients frequently manifest hyperosmia, asthenia, and dyspnoea, which are often concomitant with other respiratory and neurocognitive symptoms. Considering the clinical association that is often made with anxiety, more studies are necessary on the psychosomatic aspects of this syndrome. Further analytical epidemiological studies are needed to support the formulation of aetiological hypotheses of MCS.

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Keywords: multiple chemical sensitivity; hyperosmia; asthenia; dyspnoea; respiratory symptoms; neurocognitive symptoms; anxiety; depression

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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