Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Vaccines and Autoimmunity

Image found here. 

As I read this story entitled No Increase in Autoimmune Conditions From Use of HPV Vaccine, I was glad that a large study had disproved any link between the use of the human papilloma vaccine and autoimmune disease, but was a bit puzzled at what data may have spurred researchers to embark on this particular study.

Just goes to show that miss smartypants here isn't as smartypants as she thought she was.

Here's what the authors of this study concluded, as summarized by Medscape Medical News:
In a large population of young women aged 9 to 26 years who received quadrivalent human papillomavirus vaccine (HPV4), researchers found no increase in new-onset autoimmune conditions. This observational safety study showed no cluster of disease onset according to vaccination timing, dose sequence, or patient age for the 16 prespecified autoimmune conditions examined.......William Schaffner, MD, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, commented to Medscape Medical News that he is impressed with the study, which he said is "very well designed and executed...nicely written up, [and] very comprehensive" in its survey of a wide variety of immune disorders.
     He said the results, which would be expected, are still comforting, and that such postmarketing studies are important. "There's no evidence that HPV precipitates or in any way enhances any autoimmune conditions, which is, of course, one of the kind of vaguely stated concerns of people who are vaccine skeptics," Dr. Schaffner said. "This is a relatively new vaccine, and it's reassuring...particularly so since this is given originally to young women[, and] now [is] also being given to young men. But young women have a higher rate of some of these autoimmune disorders than do young men
It appears that the discussion of a potential link between vaccines and autoimmune disease has been brewing for several years. This by Dr. Hedi Orbach published in Feb 2010 and found on Johns Hopkins Continuing Medical Information site contains her concerns:
Infectious agents contribute to the environmental factors involved in the development of autoimmune diseases possibly through molecular mimicry mechanisms. Hence, it is feasible that vaccinations may also contribute to the mosaic of autoimmunity.
We don't know with absolute certainty what causes any autoimmune disease. What is theorized, however, is that a combination of genetics, environmental factors, and an infection may trigger the cascade of events that begin the autoimmune process. You can refresh your knowledge of autoimmune disease causes here.

After reading Dr. Orbach's quote, I can see why studies which examine the vaccine/autoimmune link are necessary. But even if it were proved, would the other precipitating factors need to be present as well?

Interesting stuff.

1 comment:

sue said...

Interesting. I never thought of vaccines as a predisposing factor. My 12 year old is supposed to receive that vaccine next year as the province gives it to all of the grade eight girls. It is nice to know that it shouldn't create a problem for her.
Doesn't mean she will be happy about receiving it though.