by Harold E Buttram, MD
Very few today would question that we are dealing with increasing patterns of sickness in today’s children as compared with earlier generations. Neurobehavioral problems are epidemic including autism, learning disabilities, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In my experience, when elementary school teachers have been questioned about this matter, answers have been unanimous and emphatic, that they are now seeing a much greater incidence of these disorders with almost visible increases by the year. The same can be said for allergies and general patterns of sickness.
Until recently some have contended that the increase in these disorders has been due to better diagnosis, but this is no longer the case as reflected by current Center for Disease Control statistics showing increases in each of these categories. What then are the causes of this ominous health trend in our children? There are clues which relate in part to vaccines. Epidemiologic studies from England, (1) Sweden, (2) Africa, (3) and New Zealand (4) have consistently shown a much greater incidence of atopic disorders and patterns of sickness in fully vaccinated children as compared to those with limited or no vaccines. For this reason it may be of interest to review some of the pertinent medical literature on adverse vaccine effects in this area.
Vaccines and Immune Impairment – a Representative Review of the Literature
In a Letter-to-the Editor to the New England Journal of Medicine (1984), Eibl et al reported on a study of routine tetanus booster immunizations in 11 healthy adults in which T-lymphocyte subpopulations (white blood cells which help govern the immune system) were tested before and after immunizations. (5) Special concern rests in the fact that in 4 of the subjects the T-helper lymphocytes temporarily dropped to levels found in active AIDS patients. Comment: If this was the result of a single vaccine in healthy adults, it is sobering to think of the immune consequences of the multiple vaccines given repeatedly to infants with their immature and vulnerable immune systems during their first 6 months of life; and yet, as far as I am aware, this test has never been repeated.
In the Journal of Infectious Diseases (1992) there was a report of the DPT vaccine (Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus) provoking a significantly higher incidence of paralytic poliomyelitis in Oman during a polio epidemic in that country. (6) Although the wild polio virus does not exist in the U.S.A at this time, this report indicates that the DPT vaccine can and often does lower the resistance of the vaccinated person, opening the way for other diseases. Comment: The counterpart in this country may be the increasing incidence of common respiratory/ear infections, asthma and other allergies, and neurobehavioral problems.
In the text, The Hazards of Immunization, by Sir Graham Wilson, there is a chapter entitled “Indirect Effects (of Vaccines): Provocation Disease.” (7) Although Wilson was not in principle opposed to immunizations, the book was directed at a review of known or suspected adverse effects from vaccines. In this particular chapter, one of the examples was that of the typhoid vaccine given to members of the German Army during World War I; that is, if typhoid vaccine were given during the incubation phase of this disease, the vaccine sometimes provoked a sudden and severe attack of typhoid fever. The same applied for poliomyelitis, about which Wilson quoted a variety of published reports showing that children had many times greater incidence of poliomyelitis who had received an injection of DTP vaccine in preceding 4 to 6 weeks as compared with uninoculated groups, or those not recently immunized. Comment: Viera Scheibner, PhD, retired research scientist of Australia, described a plausible mechanism for immune impairment and dysfunction following immunizations in the following words:
“The administration of multiple vaccines in a short space of time will probably lead to a large, albeit transient, depletion of naïve T-(lymphocyte) cells, as vaccine-antigen-specific cells are primed and undergo activation-induced cell death or differentiation into memory T cells. On the basis of current models of T-cell homeostasis, this lesion in the naïve-T-cell pool will allow extended removal of naïve T cells not specific for vaccine antigens, which will essentially include auto-reactive naïve T cells. Thus, the future risk of autoimmune disease could be increased (as well as an increased vulnerability to common infections)…Before any immunization is declared safe, the potential disruption in normal T cell homeostasis – and any resultant adverse outcomes – must be fully assessed.” (8)
Black (9) and Daum (10) demonstrated a decrease in serum anticapsular antibody to Hemophilus influenza, type b in the immediate postimmunization period, which could transiently increase the risk of invasive disease if the vaccine were administered during an asymptomatic colonization of the H influenza bacteria, thus giving another example of potential “provocation disease,” in addition to those cited by Graham Wilson. As an example of “provocation disease” from the acellular Pertussis vaccine, a report from Sweden provided details of deaths of 4 children from invasive bacterial disease post-DTaP vaccines. (11)
Jeffreys (2001) wrote: “Accumulating evidence suggests that the mechanisms underlying the maintenance of T cell homeostasis are intimately involved in preventing the increased expansion of self-reactive T cells and resultant autoimmune diseases. (12) Most importantly, the continuous export of naïve T cells into the thymus seems to be the key in controlling the number of self-reactive (auto-immune) peripheral T cells according to Tanchot and Rocha. (13)
As a commentary on the Tanchot & Rocha report, accumulations of high number of apoptotic cells (cell deaths of the naïve T cells following immunizations) is proposed to lead to immunogenic presentation of intracellular self-antigens and thereby trigger autoimmune responses. Although a subset of T-cells activated by vaccine antigens changes into memory T cells, most will undergo expansion followed by apoptosis driven by activation-induced cell death. Multiple vaccinations during a short space of time could therefore also increase the risk of (auto)immunogenic presentation of intracellular self-antigens by increasing the number of T cells undergoing apoptosis (death). (8)
Parfentjev (1955) demonstrated that vaccination of mice with pertussis vaccine increased their susceptibility to infection from several unrelated species of Gram-negative bacteria; such mice succumbed from smaller number of live bacteria than normal mice. The same vaccine also increased the susceptibility of mice to viruses. (14)
The capability of the measles vaccine to suppress cell-mediated immunity has been known for decades (15-17) (cell-mediated immunity is primarily responsible for controlling viral and fungal infections, and its suppression may be causally related with patterns of sickness commonly seen following vaccines). More recently a study by Nicholson (1992) documented the effects of the measles/rubella vaccine in lowering lymphocyte counts in HIV-infected and healthy recipients. (18)
Craighead, (1975) in reporting on a workshop on disease accentuation after immunization with inactivated microbial vaccines, first quoted research on animals which clearly demonstrated that inactivated viral and rickettsial vaccines caused an infection of increased severity after inoculation. Several investigators documented a sporadic occurrence of an atypical pattern of naturally acquired measles several years after the administration of an inactivated virus vaccine to children. Others demonstrated a febrile illness accompanied by pneumonia in experimentally infected recipients of a killed Mycoplasma pneumonia vaccine, which failed to produce detectable antibody. Still others reported an unusually severe respiratory disease in infants and young children developing natural infections with respiratory syncytial virus after immunization with formaldehyde-treated vaccine. He concluded that these observations, although limited in scope, suggested that immunization with inactivated vaccines could “sensitize” the recipients and result in an accentuated pattern of disease upon natural or experimental exposure. (19)
As previously reviewed, epidemiologic studies in widely separated geographic areas have consistently shown a greater incidence of allergies and atopic disorders in fully vaccinated children as compared with those of limited or no vaccines. (1-4) Among the basic science studies giving insights into the involved mechanisms, that of Imani and Kehoe, (2001) is of special interest. In a follow-up of a study showing that the measles virus infections caused an IgE switching of nuclear material in B-lymphcytes, the authors found that the same switching took place from the MMR vaccine leading to an increase in the expression of IgE (and by inference away from the protective IgG and IgM antibodies). (20) Comment: It appears that Imani has uncovered an important clue as to one of the important mechanisms whereby current vaccine programs may be causally related with today’s growing incidence of allergies. Other vaccines also contain allergenic properties including tetanus toxoid (21) and Bacillus pertussis. (22) Pertussis toxin injected into mice in combination with an antigen has been shown to induce synthesis of IgE antibodies to this antigen. (22) In a similar vein, pertussis toxin has been shown to prolong intestinal hypersensitivity to antigens present in the digestive system at time of pertussis administration. (23)
Acknowledgment: Some of the reference material quoted here was obtained from the writings of Dr Viera Scheibner
- Odent MR, Pertussis vaccine and asthma; is there a link? JAMA, 1994; 271:229-231.
- Alm JS et al, Atopy in children of families with anthroposophic lifestyle, Lancet, May 1, 1999; 353:1485-1488.
- Shaneen SO et al, Measles and atopy in Guinea-Bissau, Lancet, June 19, 1996; 347:1792-1796.
- Kemp T et al, Is infant immunization a risk factor for childhood asthma or allergy? Epidemiology, November, 1997; 8(6):678-680.
- Eibl M et al, Abnormal T-lymphocyte subpopulations in healthy subjects after tetanus booster immunization, (letter), NEJM, 1984; 310(3):198-199.
- Sutter RW et al, Attributable risk of DTP (Diphtheria-Tetanus-Pertussis) injection in provoking paralytic poliomyelitis during a large outbreak in Oman, Journal of Infectious Diseases, 1992; 165:444-449.
- The Hazards of Immunization, Sir Graham Wilson, Athlone Press, University of London, 1967, Pages 265-280.
- Personal Communication, Dr. Viera Scheibner, 2002.
- Black S et al, b-CAPSA 1 Haemophilus influenza type b capsular polysaccharide vaccine safety, Pediatrics, 1987; 79:321-325.
- Daum RS, Sood SK, Osterholm, MT et al, Decline in serum antibody to the capsule of the Haemophilus influenzae type b in the immediate post-immunization period, J Pediatr, 1989; 114:742-7.
- Storsaeter et al, Mortality and morbidity from invasive bacterial infections during a clinical trial of acellular pertussis vaccines in Sweden, Pediatric Infect Dis J, 1988; 7:637-645.
- Jeffreys R, T-cells and vaccination, Lancet, 2001; 357: 1451.
- Tanchot C, Rocha B, Peripheral selection of T cell repertoires: the role of continuous thymus output, J Exp Med, 1997; 186:1099-1105.
- Parfentjev IA, Bacterial allergy increases susceptibility to influenza virus in mice, Proc Soc Exp Biol Med, Nov., 1955; 90:373-375.
- Brody JA, Overfield T, Hammes IM, Depression of tuberculin sensitivity by live viral vaccines, NEJM,1964; 711:1294-1296.
- Brody JA, McAlister R, Depression of tuberculin sensitivity following measles vaccination, Am Rev Resp Dis; 1964; 90:607-611.
- McChesney MB, Altman A, Oldstone MBA, Suppression of lymphocyte function by measles virus is due to cell cycle arrest in G1, J Immunol, 1988; 140:1269-1273.
- Nicholson JKA et al, The effect of Measles-Rubella vaccination on lymphocyte populations and subpopulations in HIV-infected and healthy individuals, J Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes,1992; 5:528-537.
- Craighead JE, Report of a workshop: Disease accentuation after immunization with inactivated microbial vaccines, J Infect Dis, 1975; 1312(6):749-754.
- Imani F, Kehoe KE, Infection of human B lymphocytes with MMR vaccine induces IgE class switching, Clinical Immunology, Sept., 2001; 100(3):355-361.
- Akosa AB, Ali MH, Khoo CT et al, Angiolymphoid hyperplasia with eosinophilia associated with tetanus toxoid vaccination. Histopathol, 1990, 16:589-593.
- Suko M, Ogita I, Okudaira H, Preferential enhancement of IgE antibody formation by Bordetella pertussis, Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol, 1977; 54:329-337.
- Kosecka U et al, Pertussis adjuvant prolongs intestinal hypersensitivity, Int Arch Allergy Immunol, July, 1999; 119(3):205-211.