A team of scientists have investigated a case of vaccine-associated chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and macrophagic myofasciitis in an individual demonstrating aluminium overload.
This is the first report linking aluminium overload with either of the two conditions and the possibility is considered that the coincident aluminium overload contributed significantly to the severity of these conditions in a patient.
The team, led by Dr Chris Exley, of the Birchall Centre at Keele University in Staffordshire, UK, has found a possible mechanism whereby vaccination involving aluminium-containing adjuvants could trigger the cascade of immunological events that are associated with autoimmune conditions, including chronic fatigue syndrome and macrophagic myofasciitis.
The CFS in a 43-year-old man, with no history of previous illness, followed a course of five vaccinations, each of which included an aluminium-based adjuvant. The latter are extremely effective immunogens in their own right and so improve the immune response to whichever antigen is administered in their presence. While the course of vaccinations was cited by an industrial injuries tribunal as the cause of the CFS in the individual, it was not likely to be a cause of the elevated body burden of aluminium. The latter was probably ongoing at the time when the vaccinations were administered and it is proposed that the cause of the CFS in this individual was a heightened immune response, initially to the aluminium in each of the adjuvants and thereafter spreading to other significant body stores of aluminium.
The result was a severe and ongoing immune response to elevated body stores of aluminium, which was initiated by a course of five aluminium adjuvant-based vaccinations within a short period of time. There are strong precedents for delayed hypersensitivity to aluminium in children receiving vaccinations which include aluminium-based adjuvants, with as many as 1% of recipients showing such a response.
While the use of aluminium-based adjuvants may be safe, it is also possible that for a significant number of individuals they may represent a significant health risk, such as was found in this case. With this in mind the ongoing programme of mass vaccination of young women in the UK against the human papilloma virus (HPV) with a vaccine which uses an aluminium based adjuvant may not be without similar risks.
Recent press coverage of myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or chronic fatigue syndrome has highlighted the potentially debilitating nature of this disease and related conditions. The cause of CFS is unknown.
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