Perspectives on multisensory perception disruption in idiopathic environmental intolerance: a systematic review

Andrea Viziano, Alessandro Micarelli, Guido Pasquantonio, David Della-Morte, Marco Alessandrini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Purpose: Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) also known as idiopathic environmental intolerance/illness (IEI) encompasses a cohort of subjective symptoms characterized by susceptibility to a wide spectrum of environmental compounds, causing symptoms involving various organs and a decrease in quality of life. The aim of this systematic review is to summarize evidence about MCS, with focus on indexed studies analyzing sensory pathway-related disorders. Methods: Medical databases were searched for English language articles related to the topic, published between 1965 and 2017 in academic, peer-reviewed journals. Particular focus was concentrated on articles depicting disturbances involving sensory organs. References of the relevant articles were examined to identify additional significant documents. Results: Fifty-eight studies were eligible for full text review. Of these, 34 studies met the selection criteria and were included in this analysis. Many variables, such as different diagnostic criteria, lack of homogeneous symptom questionnaires and the general incidence of personality traits in control subjects, biased studies as confounding factors. However, moderate evidences show that sensory pathways are somewhat altered, especially with respect to information processing in the limbic system and related cortical areas. Recent studies suggested the presence, in MCS cohorts, of attention bias, sensitization and limbic kindling, as well as recently revealed subclinical organic alterations along sensory pathways. Conclusions: Evidences are consistent with MCS/IEI to be the result of a neural altered processing of sensorial ascending pathways, which combined with peculiar personality traits constitutes the underpinning of a multisensory condition needing multidisciplinary clinical approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-935
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
Issue number8
StatePublished - Nov 1 2018


  • Idiopathic environmental intolerance
  • Multiple chemical sensitivity
  • Sensitization
  • Sensory processing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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