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Aluminum in vaccines increases thimerosal's toxicity

Teresa Binstock
Researcher in Developmental & Behavioral Neuroanatomy
October 01, 2009 http://www.generationrescue.org/binstock/091001-aluminum-increases-mercury-toxicity.htm

Boyd E. Haley, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of chemistry and has published important studies about mercury (eg, 1-3). One of his team's finding documented that a major phenomenon in Alzheimer's-like pathologies could be induced by physiologically occurring levels of mercury (1).

A recent essay is titled "Aluminum in vaccination-associated cognitive decline, motor neuron disease, autism" (4). That essay prompted an insightful comment from Dr. Haley, wherein he reports that vaccine-levels of aluminum exacerbate the pathologic potential of vaccinal thimerosal:

Dr. Haley explained, "Note that aluminum alone does not cause the abnormal biochemistry and production of neurofibillary tangles as does mercury (and only mercury) due to the specific interaction of mercury at specific sulfhydryl sites in specific enzymes/proteins known to be affected dramatically in Alzheimer’s disease.  However, in our studies on neurons in culture we found that aluminum at levels found in vaccines dramatically enhanced the toxicity of thimerosal and mercury cation thereby decreasing the level of mercury required to have the toxic effects."

Importantly, some vaccines including many flu shots still contain thimerosal, and many contain one or another of the aluminum compounds used as adjuvants. Thus we repeat: aluminum at levels present in vaccines increases the toxicity of thimerosal, which is ~49.6% ethylmercury by weight. Thus when an infant, toddler, or pregnant woman is injected with a vaccine or a combination of vaccines containing aluminum compounds and thimerosal, the likelihood of adverse effects is increased.

Perhaps we should ask, Why care? 

Many media reports assure us that no evidence links thimerosal with neurologic harm. For instance, Melissa Healy of the Los Angeles Times expresses a popular notion by writing, "Many argue that environmental exposures -- in particular, to preservatives used in certain vaccines -- are a key factor in the development of autism. But a wide range of comprehensive investigations has failed to find such a link." (5)  Unfortunately, Melissa Healy's glib statement is misleading.

However, at least three major studies have found thimerosal injections to be associated with developmental disabilities including autism. Two researchers at Stony Brook medical school found that male infants injected with thimerosal via hepatitis B vaccinations (a) were nine times as likely to be enrolled in special education services, and (b) were three times as likely to have autism -- when compared with male infants who had not been so vaccinated (6-7). Importantly, these findings are consistent with the original CDC study (Verstraeten et al 1999) wherein early live thimerosal injections were associated with autism, PDD, language problems, sleep disorders, and tics (reviewed in 8).

Furthermore, other peer-reviewed studies have documented some of the mechanisms by which aluminum and mercury induce pathologies seen as neurodeneneration (eg, 10-14, 15-17).

Noteworthy: in a recently published study, researchers dared mention that "The demonstrated neurotoxicity of aluminum hydroxide and its relative ubiquity as an adjuvant suggest that greater scrutiny by the scientific community is warranted." (14)

Similarly, "Although Thimerosal has been recently removed from most children's vaccines, it is still present in flu vaccines given to pregnant women, the elderly, and to children in developing countries." (17)

Needless to say, I and others are perplexed. Why do most vaccinologists and many health officials proclaim the safety of vaccines containing aluminum compounds and/or thimerosal?  Why do reporters such as Melissa Healy and spokespersons for the CDC and FDA turn our attention away from peer-reviewed studies demonstrating adverse effects from aluminum and thimerosal?

Why must myriad children and their families live with adverse effects of vaccinations whose ingredients cause neurodegeneration and developmental disabilities?


1. Mercury vapor inhalation inhibits binding of GTP to tubulin in rat brain: similarity to a molecular lesion in Alzheimer diseased brain
Pendergrass JC, Haley BE, Vimy MJ, Winfield SA, Lorscheider FL.
Neurotoxicology. 1997;18(2):315-24.

Hg2+ interacts with brain tubulin and disassembles microtubules that maintain neurite structure. Since it is well known that Hg vapor (Hg0) is continuously released from "silver" amalgam tooth fillings and is absorbed into brain, rats were exposed to Hg0 4h/day for 0, 2, 7, 14 and 28 d at 250 or 300 micrograms Hg/m3 air, concentrations present in mouth air of some humans with many amalgam fillings. Average rat brain Hg concentrations increased significantly (11-47 fold) with duration of Hg0 exposure. By 14 d Hg0 exposure, photoaffinity labelling on the beta-subunit of the tubulin dimer with [alpha 32P] 8N3 GTP in brain homogenates was decreased 41-74%, upon analysis of SDS-PAGE autoradiograms. The identical neurochemical lesion of similar or greater magnitude is evident in Alzheimer brain homogenates from approximately 80% of patients, when compared to human age-matched neurological controls. Total tubulin protein levels remained relatively unchanged between Hg0 exposed rat brains and controls, and between Alzheimer brains and controls. Since the rate of tubulin polymerization is dependent upon binding of GTP to tubulin dimers, we conclude that chronic inhalation of low-level Hg0 can inhibit polymerization of brain tubulin essential for formation of microtubules.

2. Reduced levels of mercury in first baby haircuts of autistic children
Holmes AS, Blaxill MF, Haley BE.
Int J Toxicol. 2003 Jul-Aug;22(4):277-85.

Reported rates of autism have increased sharply in the United States and the United Kingdom. One possible factor underlying these increases is increased exposure to mercury through thimerosal-containing vaccines, but vaccine exposures need to be evaluated in the context of cumulative exposures during gestation and early infancy. Differential rates of postnatal mercury elimination may explain why similar gestational and infant exposures produce variable neurological effects. First baby haircut samples were obtained from 94 children diagnosed with autism using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM IV) criteria and 45 age- and gender-matched controls. Information on diet, dental amalgam fillings, vaccine history, Rho D immunoglobulin administration, and autism symptom severity was collected through a maternal survey questionnaire and clinical observation. Hair mercury levels in the autistic group were 0.47 ppm versus 3.63 ppm in controls, a significant difference. The mothers in the autistic group had significantly higher levels of mercury exposure through Rho D immunoglobulin injections and amalgam fillings than control mothers. Within the autistic group, hair mercury levels varied significantly across mildly, moderately, and severely autistic children, with mean group levels of 0.79, 0.46, and 0.21 ppm, respectively. Hair mercury levels among controls were significantly correlated with the number of the mothers' amalgam fillings and their fish consumption as well as exposure to mercury through childhood vaccines, correlations that were absent in the autistic group. Hair excretion patterns among autistic infants were significantly reduced relative to control. These data cast doubt on the efficacy of traditional hair analysis as a measure of total mercury exposure in a subset of the population. In light of the biological plausibility of mercury's role in neurodevelopmental disorders, the present study provides further insight into one possible mechanism by which early mercury exposures could increase the risk of autism.

3. Mercury toxicity presenting as chronic fatigue, memory impairment and depression: diagnosis, treatment, susceptibility, and outcomes in a New Zealand general practice setting (1994-2006)
Wojcik DP, Godfrey ME, Christie D, Haley BE.
Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2006 Aug;27(4):415-23.

In a group of 465 patients diagnosed as having chronic mercury toxicity (CMT), 32.3% had severe fatigue, 88.8% had memory loss, and 27.5% had depression. A significant correlation was found between CMT and the Apo-lipoprotein E4 genotype (p=0.001). An investigation into an additional 864 consecutively seen general practice patients, resulted in 30.3% having evidence consistent with CMT, and once again a significant correlation was found with the APO-E4 genotype (p=0.001). Removal of amalgam mercury fillings when combined with appropriate treatment resulted in a significant symptom reduction (p<0.001) to levels reported by healthy subjects.

4. Aluminum in vaccination-associated cognitive decline, motor neuron disease, autism
Teresa Binstock; Sept 28, 2009

5. Autism's genetic roots examined in new government-funded study
Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times
September 30, 2009

6. Hepatitis B triple series vaccine and developmental disability in US children aged 1-9 years
 Gallagher C, Goodman M. Toxicol Environ Chem 2008 90(5):997-1008.
{free online}

7. Hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and autism
CM Gallagher, MS Goodman
Annals of Epidemiology
Vol. 19, No. 9 ABSTRACTS (ACE)
September 2009: p. 659
Stony Brook University Medical Center, NY

PURPOSE: Universal newborn immunization with hepatitis B vaccine was recommended in 1991; however, safety findings are mixed. The Vaccine Safety Datalink Workgroup reported no association between hepatitis B vaccination at birth and febrile episodes or neurological adverse events. Other studies found positive associations between hepatitis B vaccination and ear infection, pharyngitis, and chronic arthritis; as well as receipt of early intervention/special education services (EIS); in probability samples of
U.S. children. Children with autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) comprise a growing caseload for EIS. We evaluated the association between hepatitis B vaccination of male neonates and parental report of ASD.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study used U.S. probability samples obtained from National Health Interview Survey 1997–2002 datasets. Logistic regression modeling was used to estimate the effect of neonatal hepatitis B vaccination on ASDrisk amongboys age 3–17 years with shot records, adjusted for race, maternal education, and two-parent household.
RESULTS:Boyswho received the hepatitis B vaccine during the first month of life had 2.94 greater odds for ASD (nZ31 of 7,486; OR Z 2.94; p Z 0.03; 95% CI Z 1.10, 7.90) compared to later- or unvaccinated boys. Non-Hispanicwhite boys were 61% less likely to have ASD(ORZ0.39; pZ0.04; 95% CIZ0.16, 0.94) relative to non-white boys.
CONCLUSION: Findings suggest that U.S. male neonates vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine had a 3-fold greater risk of ASD; risk was greatest for non-white boys.

8. [Synopsis & review]
Blockbuster primate Study Shows Significant Harm from One Birth Dose of a Mercury-containing Vaccine
By Mark Blaxill; Sept 30, 2009

9. Blood-brain barrier flux of aluminum, manganese, iron and  other metals suspected to contribute to metal-induced  neurodegeneration
Yokel RA.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Nov;10(2-3):223-53.

10:  Aluminum complexing enhances amyloid beta protein  penetration of blood-brain barrier
Banks WA et al.
Brain Res. 2006 Oct  20;1116(1):215-21.

11:  Some aspects of astroglial functions and aluminum  implications for neurodegeneration
Aremu DA, Meshitsuka S.
Brain Res Rev. 2006 Aug  30;52(1):193-200.

12: Nanomolar aluminum induces pro-inflammatory and pro-apoptotic  gene expression in human brain cells in primary culture
Lukiw WJ et al.
J Inorg Biochem. 2005  Sep;99(9):1895-8.

13. Long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide is associated with chronic cognitive dysfunction
Maryline Couette et al.
Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (2009) in press

14. Aluminum hydroxide injections lead to motor deficits and motor neuron degeneration
Christopher A. Shaw; Michael S. Petrik.
Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry (2009) in press

15. Biochemical and molecular basis of thimerosal-induced apoptosis in T cells: a major role of mitochondrial pathway
Makani S et al. 
Genes Immun. 2002 Aug;3(5):270-8.
{free online}

16. Thimerosal induces neuronal cell apoptosis by causing cytochrome c and apoptosis-inducing factor release from mitochondria
Yel L et al. 
Int J Mol Med. 2005 Dec;16(6):971-7.

17. Thimerosal neurotoxicity is associated with glutathione depletion: protection with glutathione precursors
James SJ et al.
Neurotoxicology. 2005 Jan;26(1):1-8.

Thimerosol is an antiseptic containing 49.5% ethyl mercury that has been used for years as a preservative in many infant vaccines and in flu vaccines. Environmental methyl mercury has been shown to be highly neurotoxic, especially to the developing brain. Because mercury has a high affinity for thiol (sulfhydryl (-SH)) groups, the thiol-containing antioxidant, glutathione (GSH), provides the major intracellular defense against mercury-induced neurotoxicity. Cultured neuroblastoma cells were found to have lower levels of GSH and increased sensitivity to thimerosol toxicity compared to glioblastoma cells that have higher basal levels of intracellular GSH. Thimerosal-induced cytotoxicity was associated with depletion of intracellular GSH in both cell lines. Pretreatment with 100 microM glutathione ethyl ester or N-acetylcysteine (NAC), but not methionine, resulted in a significant increase in intracellular GSH in both cell types. Further, pretreatment of the cells with glutathione ethyl ester or NAC prevented cytotoxicity with exposure to 15 microM Thimerosal. Although Thimerosal has been recently removed from most children's vaccines, it is still present in flu vaccines given to pregnant women, the elderly, and to children in developing countries. The potential protective effect of GSH or NAC against mercury toxicity warrants further research as possible adjunct therapy to individuals still receiving Thimerosal-containing vaccinations.


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