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Autism and AutoImmunity

Posted Dec 01 2012 12:00am
Conrick portrait By Teresa Conrick

My daughter, Megan, regressed in her physical, mental and social health after vaccinations. Her life forever changed, I am committed to finding out both cause then cure to improve her quality of life, along with so many like her. As a result, I spend a good amount of time reading research and scientific papers to help clarify any connections. Those connections would include immune issues, autoimmunity, mercury and vaccines.   Megan has both an Autism and autoimmune diagnosis.  Here are some connections: 

"Among patients with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) evaluated in our clinic, there appears to be a subset that can be clinically distinguished from other ASD children because of frequent infections (usually viral) accompanied by worsening behavioural symptoms and/or loss/decrease in acquired skills. This study assessed whether these clinical features of this ASD subset are associated with atopy, asthma, food allergy (FA), primary immunodeficiency (PID), or innate immune responses important in viral infections..........Clinical features of the ASD test group were not associated with atopy, asthma, FA, or PID in our study but may be associated with altered TLR responses mediating neuro-immune interactions." 

The authors' conclusion, that children with regressive Autism may have altered TLR responses, seems important so I went looking to see why that would happen. You can read about Toll-like receptors here but I also found an interesting dissertation that seemed pertinent:

Regulatory roles for natural killer T cells and Toll-like receptors in mercury-induced autoimmunity

"Herein we show that mercury administration results in release of endogenous ligands that activate TLR7, an innate immune receptor implicated in the development of systemic autoimmunity."

Interesting but since it was a short dissertation, I needed to find out more and luckliy, I found that dissertation had become a published research study :

Bacterial, viral, and parasitic infections have been implicated in the development and exacerbation of autoimmune diseases(6) . A number of other studies have shown that exposure to chemicals (drugs or heavy metals) can also trigger or exacerbate autoimmune disease (19,20,49,50). However, the effects of infections and chemicals on autoimmune disease have for the most part been studied separately, whereas human patients are likely to be exposed to both factors. Hence, in this study, we tested the effect of a commonly dispersed chemical and an infectious agent on autoimmunity. NKT cell ligand-bearing bacteria of the Sphingomonas strain are abundant soil microbes, and have been detected in the stools of 25% of healthy individuals (51). Although contact levels vary among individuals, mercury exposure is virtually universal because of its natural release in the environment, abundance as a pollutant, and presence in dental amalgams, cosmetics, preservatives, fumigants, and vaccine preparations (7,52). As previously demonstrated, normally maintained immune tolerance is broken by exposure to mercury. Administration of both mercury and bacteria induced pronounced anti-nucleolar reactivity and exacerbated the heavy metal-induced autoimmunity.

That was the first time I had seen a study describe how both mercury AND "bacteria, viral and parasitic infections" would contribute or exacerbate autoimmune disease. The mention of "vaccine preparations," (Thimerosal) is noteworthy.

Further looking brought me to this press release and its clear message: "LA JOLLA, CA, December 20, 2006—A team of scientists at The Scripps Research Institute has published a study that questions the need for incorporating an ingredient—TLR ligands— in vaccines to increase their effectiveness. Excluding TLR ligands would help keep down manufacturing costs and would avoid this ingredient’s potential side effects, such as inflammation and autoimmune syndromes."

Incredible but true that these TLR's seem to have a history of being used in vaccines:

Emory researchers have developed a vaccine adjuvant using combined TLR4 and TLR7 ligands.

Toll-Like Receptor Agonists: Not Just for Vaccines Anymore

"The ability to modulate the immune response has been an important feature of vaccine adjuvants—specifically the ability of adjuvants to strengthen a relatively weak immune response to a particular antigen in a vaccine preparation. In recent years, molecular biologists have developed an increasingly sophisticated understanding of the role of toll-like receptors (TLR) on various cells of the immune system and how ligand-binding of these receptors can either enhance or repress the activity of a particular cell type. As a result, various TLR ligands have been used as vaccine adjuvants with increasing frequency in recent years. Indeed, a vaccine containing a TLR4 agonist (Cervarix) has recently been approved in the US and Europe."

CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, November 25, 2009 - (BUSINESS WIRE) Idera Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Nasdaq: IDRA - News) today announced that Merck & Co., Inc., through an affiliate, has extended its research collaboration with Idera for a fourth year. In December 2006, the companies entered into an exclusive license and research collaboration agreement to research, develop, and commercialize vaccine products containing the Company’s investigational agonist compounds targeting Toll-like Receptors (TLRs) 7, 8, and 9 in the fields of oncology, infectious diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. As part of the agreement, the two companies engaged in a two-year research and development collaboration to generate novel agonists targeting TLR7 and TLR8 and incorporating both Merck and Idera chemistry for use in vaccines in the licensed fields, with Merck having the right to extend the collaboration for two additional one-year periods.

Here is a description of TLR agonists:

Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists are potent activators of innate immune responses, activating dendritic cell (DC) maturation and inflammatory cytokine secretion by innate immune cells and as a consequence they promote adaptive immune response when coadministered with foreign antigens.

Alarming to think that Man, tinkering with the immune system , could cause immune and autoimmune consequences but there is mounting evidence to that fact:

......rapid progress in the development of therapeutic agonists for the TLRs, there is accompanying attention to the theoretical possibility that such therapy may induce autoimmunity or autoimmune diseases.

It appears that mercury, "abundance as a pollutant, and presence in dental amalgams, cosmetics, preservatives, fumigants, and vaccine preparations " can cause immune and autoimmune disease via Toll Like Receptors (TLR) activation and then additionally, Man-made, Toll Like Receptors could also have their own influence on immune issues, and very possibly autoimmunity. We here at Age of Autism will continue to sound the alarm.

Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.

Posted by Age of Autism at December 11, 2012 at 5:45 AM in Teresa Conrick Permalink

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