Neurodevelopmental disorders after thimerosal-containing vaccines: a brief communication
We were initially highly skeptical that differences in the concentrations of thimerosal in vaccines would have any effect on the incidence rate of neurodevelopmental disorders after childhood immunization. This study presents the first epidemiologic evidence, based upon tens of millions of doses of vaccine administered in the United States, that associates increasing thimerosal from vaccines with neurodevelopmental disorders. Specifically, an analysis of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database showed statistical increases in the incidence rate of autism (relative risk [RR] = 6.0), mental retardation (RR = 6.1), and speech disorders (RR = 2.2) after thimerosal-containing diphtheria, tetanus, and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines in comparison with thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines. The male/female ratio indicated that autism (17) and speech disorders (2.3) were reported more in males than females after thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccines, whereas mental retardation (1.2) was more evenly reported among male and female vaccine recipients. Controls were employed to determine if biases were present in the data, but none were found. It was determined that overall adverse reactions were reported in similar-aged populations after thimerosal-containing DTaP (2.4 +/- 3.2 years old) and thimerosal-free DTaP (2.1 +/- 2.8 years old) vaccinations. Acute control adverse reactions such as deaths (RR = 1.0), vasculitis (RR = 1.2), seizures (RR = 1.6), ED visits (RR = 1.4), total adverse reactions (RR = 1.4), and gastroenteritis (RR = 1.1) were reported similarly after thimerosal-containing and thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines. An association between neurodevelopmental disorders and thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccines was found, but additional studies should be conducted to confirm and extend this study.
An assessment of the impact of thimerosal on childhood neurodevelopmental disorders
The prevalence of autism in the US has risen from 1 in ~2500 in the mid-1980s to 1 in ~300 children in the mid-1990s. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether mercury from thimerosal in childhood vaccines contributed to neurodevelopmental disorders. Neurodevelopmental disorder dose-response curves for increasing mercury doses of thimerosal in childhood vaccines were determined based upon examination of the Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) database and the 2001 US' Department of Education Report. The instantaneous dosage of mercury children received in comparison to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)'s maximum permissible dose for the oral ingestion of methylmercury was also determined. The dose-response curves showed increases in odds ratios of neurodevelopmental disorders from both the VAERS and US Department of Education data closely linearly correlated with increasing doses of mercury from thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and that for overall odds ratios statistical significance was achieved. Similar slopes and linear regression coefficients for autism odds ratios in VAERS and the US Department of Education data help to mutually validate each other. Controls employed in the VAERS and US Department of Education data showed minimal biases. The evidence presented here shows that the occurrence of neurodevelopmental disorders following thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines does not appear to be coincidental Source: Developmental Neurorehabilitation,
Neurodevelopmental Disorders Following Thimerosal-Containing Childhood Immunizations: A Follow-Up Analysis
The authors previously published the first epidemiological study from the United States associating thimerosal from childhood vaccines with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) based upon assessment of the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). A number of years have gone by since their previous analysis of the VAERS. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the previously observed effect between thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines and NDs are still apparent in the VAERS as children have had a chance to further mature and potentially be diagnosed with additional NDs. In the present study, a cohort of children receiving thimerosal-containing diphtheria-tetanus-acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccines in comparison to a cohort of children receiving thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines administered from 1997 through 2000 based upon an assessment of adverse events reported to the VAERS were evaluated. It was determined that there were significantly increased odds ratios (ORs) for autism (OR = 1.8, p < .05), mental retardation (OR = 2.6, p < .002), speech disorder (OR = 2.1, p <.02), personality disorders (OR=2.6, p <.01), and thinking abnormality (OR=8.2, p <.01) adverse events reported to the VAERS following thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccines in comparison to thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines. Potential confounders and reporting biases were found to be minimal in this assessment of the VAERS. It was observed, even though the media has reported a potential association between autism and thimerosal exposure, that the other NDs analyzed in this assessment of the VAERS had significantly higher ORs than autism following thimerosal-containing DTaP vaccines in comparison to thimerosal-free DTaP vaccines. The present study provides additional epidemiological evidence supporting previous epidemiological, clinical and experimental evidence that administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines in the United States resulted in a significant number of children developing NDs.
Source: International Journal of Toxicology November 2004 vol. 23 no. 6 369-376
A comparative evaluation of the effects of MMR immunization and mercury doses from thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines on the population prevalence of autism
Background:The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of MMR immunization and mercury from thimerosal-containing childhood vaccines on the prevalence of autism.Material/Methods: Evaluations of the Biological Surveillance Summaries of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Education datasets, and the CDC’s yearly live birth estimates were undertakenResults: It was determined that there was a close correlation between mercury doses from thimerosal--containing childhood vaccines and the prevalence of autism from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s. In contrast, there was a potential correlation between the number of primary pediatric measles-containing vaccines administered and the prevalence of autism during the 1980s. In addition, it was found that there were statistically significant odds ratios for the development of autism following increasing doses of mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines (birth cohorts: 1985 and 1990–1995) in comparison to a baseline measurement (birth cohort: 1984). The contribution of thimerosal from childhood vaccines (>50% effect) was greater than MMR vaccine on the prevalence of autism observed in this study.Conclusions: The results of this study agree with a number of previously published studies. These studies have shown that there is biological plausibility and epidemiological evidence showing a direct relationship between increasing doses of mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines and neurodevelopmental disorders, and measles-containing vaccines and serious neurological disorders. It is recommended that thimerosal be removed from all vaccines, and additional research be undertaken to produce a MMR vaccine with an improved safety profile.
An Evaluation of the Effects of Thimerosal on Neurodevelopmental Disorders Reported Following DTP and Hib Vaccines in Comparison to DTPH Vaccine in the United States
Thimerosal is an ethylmercury (49.55% mercury by weight) preservative historically added to some vaccines. Toxicokinetic studies showed children in the United States received doses of mercury from Thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) in excess of safety guidelines. In the United States during the 1990s, diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis (DTP) and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) vaccines (maximally, 50 μg mercury per joint administration) and diphtheria–tetanus–pertussis–Haemophilus influenzae type b (DTPH) vaccines (25 μg mercury per administration) were given to children in the same childhood vaccination schedule at 2, 4, 6, and 15–18 mo, so that children receiving DTP and Hib vaccines may have maximally received an additional 100 μg more mercury exposure from TCVs than children administered DTPH vaccines. A case-control epidemiological study of neurodevelopmental disorders (NDs) reported to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) (online public access version; updated 31 August 2004) following administration of DTP vaccines in comparison DTPH vaccines manufactured by Lederle Laboratories (Pearl River, NY) from 1994 through 1998 was undertaken. Significantly increased odds ratios for autism, speech disorders, mental retardation, infantile spasms, and thinking abnormalities reported to VAERS were found following DTP vaccines in comparison to DTPH vaccines with minimal bias or systematic error. Additional ND research should be undertaken in the context of evaluating mercury-associated exposures, especially since in 2005 the Institute of Medicine issued a report calling into question handling of vaccine safety data by the National Immunization Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues
Induction of metallothionein in mouse cerebellum and cerebrum with low-dose thimerosal injection
Thimerosal, an ethyl mercury compound, is used worldwide as a vaccine preservative. We previously observed that the mercury concentration in mouse brains did not increase with the clinical dose of thimerosal injection, but the concentration increased in the brain after the injection of thimerosal with lipopolysaccharide, even if a low dose of thimerosal was administered. Thimerosal may penetrate the brain, but is undetectable when a clinical dose of thimerosal is injected; therefore, the induction of metallothionein (MT) messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein was observed in the cerebellum and cerebrum of mice after thimerosal injection, as MT is an inducible protein. MT-1 mRNA was expressed at 6 and 9 h in both the cerebrum and cerebellum, but MT-1 mRNA expression in the cerebellum was three times higher than that in the cerebrum after the injection of 12 microg/kg thimerosal. MT-2 mRNA was not expressed until 24 h in both organs. MT-3 mRNA was expressed in the cerebellum from 6 to 15 h after the injection, but not in the cerebrum until 24 h. MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs were expressed in the cerebellum in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, MT-1 protein was detected from 6 to 72 h in the cerebellum after 12 microg/kg of thimerosal was injected and peaked at 10 h. MT-2 was detected in the cerebellum only at 10 h. In the cerebrum, little MT-1 protein was detected at 10 and 24 h, and there were no peaks of MT-2 protein in the cerebrum. In conclusion, MT-1 and MT-3 mRNAs but not MT-2 mRNA are easily expressed in the cerebellum rather than in the cerebrum by the injection of low-dose thimerosal. It is thought that the cerebellum is a sensitive organ against thimerosal. As a result of the present findings, in combination with the brain pathology observed in patients diagnosed with autism, the present study helps to support the possible biological plausibility for how low-dose exposure to mercury from thimerosal-containing vaccines may be associated with autism.
Mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired oxidative-reduction activity, degeneration, and death in human neuronal and fetal cells induced by low-level exposure to thimerosal and other metal compounds
Thimerosal (ethylmercurithiosalicylic acid), an ethylmercury (EtHg)-releasing compound (49.55% mercury (Hg)), was used in a range of medical products for more than 70 years. Of particular recent concern, routine administering of Thimerosal-containing biologics/childhood vaccines have become significant sources of Hg exposure for some fetuses/infants. This study was undertaken to investigate cellular damage among in vitro human neuronal (SH-SY-5Y neuroblastoma and 1321N1 astrocytoma) and fetal (nontransformed) model systems using cell vitality assays and microscope-based digital image capture techniques to assess potential damage induced by Thimerosal and other metal compounds (aluminum (Al) sulfate, lead (Pb)(II) acetate, methylmercury (MeHg) hydroxide, and mercury (Hg)(II) chloride) where the cation was reported to exert adverse effects on developing cells. Thimerosal-associated cellular damage was also evaluated for similarity to pathophysiological findings observed in patients diagnosed with autistic disorders (ADs). Thimerosal-induced cellular damage as evidenced by concentration- and time-dependent mitochondrial damage, reduced oxidative-reduction activity, cellular degeneration, and cell death in the in vitro human neuronal and fetal model systems studied. Thimerosal at low nanomolar (nM) concentrations induced significant cellular toxicity in human neuronal and fetal cells. Thimerosal-induced cytoxicity is similar to that observed in AD pathophysiologic studies. Thimerosal was found to be significantly more toxic than the other metal compounds examined. Future studies need to be conducted to evaluate additional mechanisms underlying Thimerosal-induced cellular damage and assess potential co-exposures to other compounds that may increase or decrease Thimerosal-mediated toxicity.
Evidence of parallels between mercury intoxication and the brain pathology in autism
The purpose of this review is to examine the parallels between the effects mercury intoxication on the brain and the brain pathology found in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This review finds evidence of many parallels between the two, including: (1) microtubule degeneration, specifically large, long-range axon degeneration with subsequent abortive axonal sprouting (short, thin axons); (2) dentritic overgrowth; (3) neuroinflammation; (4) microglial/astrocytic activation; (5) brain immune response activation; (6) elevated glial fibrillary acidic protein; (7) oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation; (8) decreased reduced glutathione levels and elevated oxidized glutathione; (9) mitochondrial dysfunction; (10) disruption in calcium homeostasis and signaling; (11) inhibition of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) activity; (12) disruption of GABAergic and glutamatergic homeostasis; (13) inhibition of IGF-1 and methionine synthase activity; (14) impairment in methylation; (15) vascular endothelial cell dysfunction and pathological changes of the blood vessels; (16) decreased cerebral/cerebellar blood flow; (17) increased amyloid precursor protein; (18) loss of granule and Purkinje neurons in the cerebellum; (19) increased pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in the brain (TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-8); and (20) aberrant nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-kappaB). This review also discusses the ability of mercury to potentiate and work synergistically with other toxins and pathogens in a way that may contribute to the brain pathology in ASD. The evidence suggests that mercury may be either causal or contributory in the brain pathology in ASD, possibly working synergistically with other toxic compounds or pathogens to produce the brain pathology observed in those diagnosed with an ASD.
Mercury induces inflammatory mediator release from human mast cells
Mercury is known to be neurotoxic, but its effects on the immune system are less well known. Mast cells are involved in allergic reactions, but also in innate and acquired immunity, as well as in inflammation. Many patients with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have "allergic" symptoms; moreover, the prevalence of ASD in patients with mastocytosis, characterized by numerous hyperactive mast cells in most tissues, is 10-fold higher than the general population suggesting mast cell involvement. We, therefore, investigated the effect of mercuric chloride (HgCl2) on human mast cell activation.
Human leukemic cultured LAD2 mast cells and normal human umbilical cord blood-derived cultured mast cells (hCBMCs) were stimulated by HgCl2 (0.1-10 μM) for either 10 min for beta-hexosaminidase release or 24 hr for measuring vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and IL-6 release by ELISA.
HgCl2 induced a 2-fold increase in β-hexosaminidase release, and also significant VEGF release at 0.1 and 1 μM (311 ± 32 pg/106 cells and 443 ± 143 pg/106 cells, respectively) from LAD2 mast cells compared to control cells (227 ± 17 pg/106 cells, n = 5, p < 0.05). Addition of HgCl2 (0.1 μM) to the proinflammatory neuropeptide substance P (SP, 0.1 μM) had synergestic action in inducing VEGF from LAD2 mast cells. HgCl2 also stimulated significant VEGF release (360 ± 100 pg/106 cells at 1 μM, n = 5, p < 0.05) from hCBMCs compared to control cells (182 ± 57 pg/106 cells), and IL-6 release (466 ± 57 pg/106 cells at 0.1 μM) compared to untreated cells (13 ± 25 pg/106 cells, n = 5, p < 0.05). Addition of HgCl2 (0.1 μM) to SP (5 μM) further increased IL-6 release.
HgCl2 stimulates VEGF and IL-6 release from human mast cells. This phenomenon could disrupt the blood-brain-barrier and permit brain inflammation. As a result, the findings of the present study provide a biological mechanism for how low levels of mercury may contribute to ASD pathogenesis.
The severity of autism is associated with toxic metal body burden and red blood cell glutathione levels.
This study investigated the relationship of children's autism symptoms with their toxic metal body burden and red blood cell (RBC) glutathione levels. In children ages 3-8 years, the severity of autism was assessed using four tools: ADOS, PDD-BI, ATEC, and SAS. Toxic metal body burden was assessed by measuring urinary excretion of toxic metals, both before and after oral dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA). Multiple positive correlations were found between the severity of autism and the urinary excretion of toxic metals. Variations in the severity of autism measurements could be explained, in part, by regression analyses of urinary excretion of toxic metals before and after DMSA and the level of RBC glutathione (adjusted R(2) of 0.22-0.45, P < .005 in all cases). This study demonstrates a significant positive association between the severity of autism and the relative body burden of toxic metals.
Source: J Toxicol. 2009;2009:532640. doi: 10.1155/2009/532640. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
Mercury, lead, and zinc in baby teeth of children with autism versus controls
This study determined the level of mercury, lead, and zinc in baby teeth of children with autism spectrum disorder (n = 15, age 6.1 +/- 2.2 yr) and typically developing children (n = 11, age = 7 +/- 1.7 yr). Children with autism had significantly (2.1-fold) higher levels of mercury but similar levels of lead and similar levels of zinc. Children with autism also had significantly higher usage of oral antibiotics during their first 12 mo of life, and possibly higher usage of oral antibiotics during their first 36 mo of life. Baby teeth are a good measure of cumulative exposure to toxic metals during fetal development and early infancy, so this study suggests that children with autism had a higher body burden of mercury during fetal/infant development. Antibiotic use is known to almost completely inhibit excretion of mercury in rats due to alteration of gut flora. Thus, higher use of oral antibiotics in the children with autism may have reduced their ability to excrete mercury, and hence may partially explain the higher level in baby teeth. Higher usage of oral antibiotics in infancy may also partially explain the high incidence of chronic gastrointestinal problems in individuals with autism.
Lasting neuropathological changes in rat brain after intermittent neonatal administration of thimerosal
Thimerosal, an organomercurial added as a preservative to some vaccines, is a suspected iatrogenic factor, possibly contributing to paediatric neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. We examined the effects of early postnatal administration of thimerosal (four i.m. injections, 12 or 240 μg THIM-Hg/kg, on postnatal days 7, 9, 11 and 15) on brain pathology in Wistar rats. Numerous neuropathological changes were observed in young adult rats which were treated postnatally with thimerosal. They included: ischaemic degeneration of neurons and "dark" neurons in the prefrontal and temporal cortex, the hippocampus and the cerebellum, pathological changes of the blood vessels in the temporal cortex, diminished synaptophysin reaction in the hippocampus, atrophy of astroglia in the hippocampus and cerebellum, and positive caspase-3 reaction in Bergmann astroglia. These findings document neurotoxic effects of thimerosal, at doses equivalent to those used in infant vaccines or higher, in developing rat brain, suggesting likely involvement of this mercurial in neurodevelopmental disorders.
Persistent behavioral impairments and alterations of brain dopamine system after early postnatal administration of thimerosal in rats.
The neurotoxic organomercurial thimerosal (THIM), used for decades as vaccine preservative, is a suspected factor in the pathogenesis of some neurodevelopmental disorders. Previously we showed that neonatal administration of THIM at doses equivalent to those used in infant vaccines or higher, causes lasting alterations in the brain opioid system in rats. Here we investigated neonatal treatment with THIM (at doses 12, 240, 1440 and 3000 μg Hg/kg) on behaviors, which are characteristically altered in autism, such as locomotor activity, anxiety, social interactions, spatial learning, and on the brain dopaminergic system in Wistar rats of both sexes. Adult male and female rats, which were exposed to the entire range of THIM doses during the early postnatal life, manifested impairments of locomotor activity and increased anxiety/neophobia in the open field test. In animals of both sexes treated with the highest THIM dose, the frequency of prosocial interactions was reduced, while the frequency of asocial/antisocial interactions was increased in males, but decreased in females. Neonatal THIM treatment did not significantly affect spatial learning and memory. THIM-exposed rats also manifested reduced haloperidol-induced catalepsy, accompanied by a marked decline in the density of striatal D₂ receptors, measured by immunohistochemical staining, suggesting alterations to the brain dopaminergic system. Males were more sensitive than females to some neurodisruptive/neurotoxic actions of THIM. These data document that early postnatal THIM administration causes lasting neurobehavioral impairments and neurochemical alterations in the brain, dependent on dose and sex. If similar changes occur in THIM/mercurial-exposed children, they could contribute do neurodevelopmental disorders.
Neonatal administration of a vaccine preservative, thimerosal, produces lasting impairment of nociception and apparent activation of opioid system in rats.
Thimerosal (THIM), an organomercury preservative added to many child vaccines is a suspected factor in pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental disorders. We examined the pharmacokinetics of Hg in the brain, liver and kidneys after i.m. THIM injection in suckling rats and we tested THIM effect on nociception. THIM solutions were injected to Wistar and Lewis rats in a vaccination-like mode on PN days 7, 9, 11 and 15 in four equal doses. For Wistar rats these were: 12, 48, 240, 720, 1440, 2160, 3000 microg Hg/kg and for Lewis: 54, 216, 540 and 1080 microg Hg/kg. Pharmacokinetic analysis revealed that Hg from THIM injections accumulates in the rat brain in significant amounts and remains there longer than 30 days after the injection. At the 6th week of age animals were examined for pain sensitivity using the hot plate test. THIM treated rats of both strains and sexes manifested statistically significantly elevated pain threshold (latency for paw licking, jumping) on a hot plate (56 degrees C). Wistar rats were more sensitive to this effect than Lewis rats. Protracted THIM-induced hypoalgesia was reversed by naloxone (5 mg/kg, i.p.) injected before the hot plate test, indicative of involvement of endogenous opioids. This was confirmed by augmented catalepsy after morphine (2.5 mg/kg, s.c.) injection. Acute THIM injection to 6-week-old rats also produced hypoalgesia, but this effect was transient and was gone within 14 days. Present findings show that THIM administration to suckling or adult rats impairs sensitivity to pain, apparently due to activation the endogenous opioid system.
The plausibility of a role for mercury in the etiology of autism: a cellular perspective.
Autism is defined by a behavioral set of stereotypic and repetitious behavioral patterns in combination with social and communication deficits. There is emerging evidence supporting the hypothesis that autism may result from a combination of genetic susceptibility and exposure to environmental toxins at critical moments in development. Mercury (Hg) is recognized as a ubiquitous environmental neurotoxin and there is mounting evidence linking it to neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism. Of course, the evidence is not derived from experimental trials with humans but rather from methods focusing on biomarkers of Hg damage, measurements of Hg exposure, epidemiological data, and animal studies. For ethical reasons, controlled Hg exposure in humans will never be conducted. Therefore, to properly evaluate the Hg-autism etiological hypothesis, it is essential to first establish the biological plausibility of the hypothesis. This review examines the plausibility of Hg as the primary etiological agent driving the cellular mechanisms by which Hg-induced neurotoxicity may result in the physiological attributes of autism. Key areas of focus include: (1) route and cellular mechanisms of Hg exposure in autism; (2) current research and examples of possible genetic variables that are linked to both Hg sensitivity and autism; (3) the role Hg may play as an environmental toxin fueling the oxidative stress found in autism; (4) role of mitochondrial dysfunction; and (5) possible role of Hg in abnormal neuroexcitory and excitotoxity that may play a role in the immune dysregulation found in autism. Future research directions that would assist in addressing the gaps in our knowledge are proposed.
Neonatal Administration of Thimerosal Causes Persistent Changes in Mu Opioid Receptors in the Rat Brain
Thimerosal added to some pediatric vaccines is suspected in pathogenesis of several neurodevelopmental disorders. Our previous study showed that thimerosal administered to suckling rats causes persistent, endogenous opioid-mediated hypoalgesia. Here we examined, using immunohistochemical staining technique, the density of μ-opioid receptors (MORs) in the brains of rats, which in the second postnatal week received four i.m. injections of thimerosal at doses 12, 240, 1,440 or 3,000 μg Hg/kg. The periaqueductal gray, caudate putamen and hippocampus were examined. Thimerosal administration caused dose-dependent statistically significant increase in MOR densities in the periaqueductal gray and caudate putamen, but decrease in the dentate gyrus, where it was accompanied by the presence of degenerating neurons and loss of synaptic vesicle marker (synaptophysin). These data document that exposure to thimerosal during early postnatal life produces lasting alterations in the densities of brain opioid receptors along with other neuropathological changes, which may disturb brain development.
Ancestry of Pink Disease (Infantile Acrodynia) Identified as a Risk Factor for Autism Spectrum Disorders
Pink disease (infantile acrodynia) was especially prevalent in the first half of the 20th century. Primarily attributed to exposure to mercury (Hg) commonly found in teething powders, the condition was developed by approximately 1 in 500 exposed children. The differential risk factor was identified as an idiosyncratic sensitivity to Hg. Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have also been postulated to be produced by Hg. Analogous to the pink disease experience, Hg exposure is widespread yet only a fraction of exposed children develop an ASD, suggesting sensitivity to Hg may also be present in children with an ASD. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that individuals with a known hypersensitivity to Hg (pink disease survivors) may be more likely to have descendants with an ASD. Five hundred and twenty-two participants who had previously been diagnosed with pink disease completed a survey on the health outcomes of their descendants. The prevalence rates of ASD and a variety of other clinical conditions diagnosed in childhood (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, epilepsy, Fragile X syndrome, and Down syndrome) were compared to well-established general population prevalence rates. The results showed the prevalence rate of ASD among the grandchildren of pink disease survivors (1 in 25) to be significantly higher than the comparable general population prevalence rate (1 in 160). The results support the hypothesis that Hg sensitivity may be a heritable/genetic risk factor for ASD.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part A: Current Issues
Integrating experimental (in vitro and in vivo) neurotoxicity studies of low-dose thimerosal relevant to vaccines.
There is a need to interpret neurotoxic studies to help deal with uncertainties surrounding pregnant mothers, newborns and young children who must receive repeated doses of Thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs). This review integrates information derived from emerging experimental studies (in vitro and in vivo) of low-dose Thimerosal (sodium ethyl mercury thiosalicylate). Major databases (PubMed and Web-of-science) were searched for in vitro and in vivo experimental studies that addressed the effects of low-dose Thimerosal (or ethylmercury) on neural tissues and animal behaviour. Information extracted from studies indicates that: (a) activity of low doses of Thimerosal against isolated human and animal brain cells was found in all studies and is consistent with Hg neurotoxicity; (b) the neurotoxic effect of ethylmercury has not been studied with co-occurring adjuvant-Al in TCVs; (c) animal studies have shown that exposure to Thimerosal-Hg can lead to accumulation of inorganic Hg in brain, and that (d) doses relevant to TCV exposure possess the potential to affect human neuro-development. Thimerosal at concentrations relevant for infants' exposure (in vaccines) is toxic to cultured human-brain cells and to laboratory animals. The persisting use of TCV (in developing countries) is counterintuitive to global efforts to lower Hg exposure and to ban Hg in medical products; its continued use in TCV requires evaluation of a sufficiently nontoxic level of ethylmercury compatible with repeated exposure (co-occurring with adjuvant-Al) during early life.
Prenatal exposure to organomercury, thimerosal, persistently impairs the serotonergic and dopaminergic systems in the rat brain: Implications for association with developmental disorders
Thimerosal, an organomercury compound, has been widely used as a preservative. Therefore, concerns have been raised about its neurotoxicity. We recently demonstrated perturbation of early serotonergic development by prenatal exposure to thimerosal (Ida-Eto et al. (2011) ). Here, we investigated whether prenatal thimerosal exposure causes persistent impairment after birth. Analysis on postnatal day 50 showed significant increase in hippocampal serotonin following thimerosal administration on embryonic day 9. Furthermore, not only serotonin, striatal dopamine was significantly increased. These results indicate that embryonic exposure to thimerosal produces lasting impairment of brain monoaminergic system, and thus every effort should be made to avoid the use of thimerosal.
Embryonic exposure to thimerosal, an organomercury compound, causes abnormal early development of serotonergic neurons
Even though neuronal toxicity due to organomercury compounds is well known, thimerosal, an organomercury compound, is widely used in pediatric vaccine preservation. In the present study, we examined whether embryonic exposure to thimerosal affects early development of serotonergic neurons. Thimerosal (1mg Hg/kg) was intramuscularly administered to pregnant rats on gestational day 9 (susceptible time window for development of fetal serotonergic system), and fetal serotonergic neurons were assessed at embryonic day 15 using anti-serotonin antibodies. A dramatic increase in the number of serotonergic neurons localized to the lateral portion of the caudal raphe was observed in thimerosal group (1.9-fold increase, p<0.01 compared to control). These results indicate that embryonic exposure to thimerosal affects early development of serotonergic neurons.
Thimerosal exposure and the role of sulfation chemistry and thiol availability in autism
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurological disorder in which a significant number of the children experience a developmental regression characterized by a loss of previously acquired skills and abilities. Typically reported are losses of verbal, nonverbal, and social abilities. Several recent studies suggest that children diagnosed with an ASD have abnormal sulfation chemistry, limited thiol availability, and decreased glutathione (GSH) reserve capacity, resulting in a compromised oxidation/reduction (redox) and detoxification capacity. Research indicates that the availability of thiols, particularly GSH, can influence the effects of thimerosal (TM) and other mercury (Hg) compounds. TM is an organomercurial compound (49.55% Hg by weight) that has been, and continues to be, used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, particularly in developing countries. Thiol-modulating mechanisms affecting the cytotoxicity of TM have been identified. Importantly, the emergence of ASD symptoms post-6 months of age temporally follows the administration of many childhood vaccines. The purpose of the present critical review is provide mechanistic insight regarding how limited thiol availability, abnormal sulfation chemistry, and decreased GSH reserve capacity in children with an ASD could make them more susceptible to the toxic effects of TM routinely administered as part of mandated childhood immunization schedules.
B-lymphocytes from a population of children with autism spectrum disorder and their unaffected siblings exhibit hypersensitivity to thimerosal.
The role of thimerosal containing vaccines in the development of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has been an area of intense debate, as has the presence of mercury dental amalgams and fish ingestion by pregnant mothers. We studied the effects of thimerosal on cell proliferation and mitochondrial function from B-lymphocytes taken from individuals with autism, their nonautistic twins, and their nontwin siblings. Eleven families were examined and compared to matched controls. B-cells were grown with increasing levels of thimerosal, and various assays (LDH, XTT, DCFH, etc.) were performed to examine the effects on cellular proliferation and mitochondrial function. A subpopulation of eight individuals (4 ASD, 2 twins, and 2 siblings) from four of the families showed thimerosal hypersensitivity, whereas none of the control individuals displayed this response. The thimerosal concentration required to inhibit cell proliferation in these individuals was only 40% of controls. Cells hypersensitive to thimerosal also had higher levels of oxidative stress markers, protein carbonyls, and oxidant generation. This suggests certain individuals with a mild mitochondrial defect may be highly susceptible to mitochondrial specific toxins like the vaccine preservative thimerosal.
Source: J Toxicol. 2013;2013:801517. doi: 10.1155/2013/801517. Epub 2013 Jun 9
Toxicity of ethylmercury (and Thimerosal): a comparison with methylmercury.
The combination of ethylmercury in Vaccines and Methylmercury in the Environment Gives Ethylmercury Greater Toxicity
Ethylmercury (etHg) is derived from the metabolism of thimerosal (o-carboxyphenyl-thio-ethyl-sodium salt), which is the most widely used form of organic mercury. Because of its application as a vaccine preservative, almost every human and animal (domestic and farmed) that has been immunized with thimerosal-containing vaccines has been exposed to etHg. Although methylmercury (meHg) is considered a hazardous substance that is to be avoided even at small levels when consumed in foods such as seafood and rice (in Asia), the World Health Organization considers small doses of thimerosal safe regardless of multiple/repetitive exposures to vaccines that are predominantly taken during pregnancy or infancy. We have reviewed in vitro and in vivo studies that compare the toxicological parameters among etHg and other forms of mercury (predominantly meHg) to assess their relative toxicities and potential to cause cumulative insults. In vitro studies comparing etHg with meHg demonstrate equivalent measured outcomes for cardiovascular, neural and immune cells. However, under in vivo conditions, evidence indicates a distinct toxicokinetic profile between meHg and etHg, favoring a shorter blood half-life, attendant compartment distribution and the elimination of etHg compared with meHg. EtHg's toxicity profile is different from that of meHg, leading to different exposure and toxicity risks. Therefore, in real-life scenarios, a simultaneous exposure to both etHg and meHg might result in enhanced neurotoxic effects in developing mammals. However, our knowledge on this subject is still incomplete, and studies are required to address the predictability of the additive or synergic toxicological effects of etHg and meHg (or other neurotoxicants).