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Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations


L Tomljenovic and CA Shaw:Mechanisms of aluminum adjuvant toxicity and autoimmunity in pediatric populations Lupus 2012 21: 223



Immune challenges during early development, including those vaccine-induced, can lead to

permanent detrimental alterations of the brain and immune function. Experimental evidence

also shows that simultaneous administration of as little as two to three immune adjuvants can

overcome genetic resistance to autoimmunity. In some developed countries, by the time children

are 4 to 6 years old, they will have received a total of 126 antigenic compounds along with

high amounts of aluminum (Al) adjuvants through routine vaccinations. According to the US

Food and Drug Administration, safety assessments for vaccines have often not included

appropriate toxicity studies because vaccines have not been viewed as inherently toxic.

Taken together, these observations raise plausible concerns about the overall safety of current

childhood vaccination programs. When assessing adjuvant toxicity in children, several key

points ought to be considered: (i) infants and children should not be viewed as ‘‘small adults’’

with regard to toxicological risk as their unique physiology makes them much more vulnerable

to toxic insults; (ii) in adult humans Al vaccine adjuvants have been linked to a variety of

serious autoimmune and inflammatory conditions (i.e., ‘‘ASIA’’), yet children are regularly

exposed to much higher amounts of Al from vaccines than adults; (iii) it is often assumed that

peripheral immune responses do not affect brain function. However, it is now clearly established

that there is a bidirectional neuro-immune cross-talk that plays crucial roles in immunoregulation

as well as brain function. In turn, perturbations of the neuro-immune axis have

been demonstrated in many autoimmune diseases encompassed in ‘‘ASIA’’ and are thought to

be driven by a hyperactive immune response; and (iv) the same components of the neuroimmune

axis that play key roles in brain development and immune function are heavily targeted

by Al adjuvants. In summary, research evidence shows that increasing concerns about

current vaccination practices may indeed be warranted. Because children may be most at risk

of vaccine-induced complications, a rigorous evaluation of the vaccine-related adverse health

impacts in the pediatric population is urgently needed.


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