By Teresa Conrick
Is Autism an autoimmune disease? I think for many it evolves into a disease of the immune system so that may swing that answer to a "yes." I know for my daughter who has an Autism diagnosis, she has tested positive for autoimmunity so the topic of immune functioning is important to me and also many other parents of children with an Autism and/or PANDAS [Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorder Associated with Streptococcus] diagnosis. Many of us saw both our children's health and behaviors change after vaccination.
Knowing that, it is particularly interesting that in 2010, there was a growing number of vaccine injuries that produced an autoimmune diagnosis, a frightening one -- Narcolepsy and Cataplexy.
The vaccine implicated was the H1N1 flu shot. Here is a group of related research and letters associated with this phenomenon that seems to be related:
Letter to the Editor—Dauvilliers et al, Post-H1N1 Narcolepsy-Cataplexy, SLEEP, Vol. 33, No. 11, 2010
"..The cause of narcolepsy is likely autoimmune based...As for most autoimmune diseases, twin pairs are most often discordant (65% to 80%), and environmental triggers are suspected to play a critical role.1 Most notably, two recent reports have found an association with past streptococcus infections,7,8 leading to the speculation that upper airway infections could be involved in many cases as a cofactor....."
"....In three major centers of reference for narcolepsy—Montpellier, France; Montreal, Canada; and Stanford University, United States—we noticed in the first months of 2010 an unusual increase in abrupt onset narcolepsy-cataplexy diagnosed within a few months of H1N1 onset....Of the 31 cases, 14 post-vaccination cases were identified....The post streptococcal marker ASO was positive in 11 cases
"...Of the 14 post-vaccination cases, 11 cases followed adjuvanated vaccination, while 3 were vaccinated without adjuvant. Delay between vaccination and cataplexy onset in these cases ranged from 2 days (strong local response followed by a generalized reaction following vaccination)to 5 months, although in 9 of the 14 post-vaccination cases the onset occurred 2-8 weeks following vaccination. As the delay between onset and diagnosis is often long,1,13 more cases are likely to be identified in the future."
"How could H1N1 vaccination or infection trigger narcolepsy?.....a specific immune response to H1N1 (and possibly subsequent molecular mimicry) or generalized stimulation of the immune system.....most cases followed vaccination with ASO3. This vaccine has been reported
to be associated with side effects suggestive of stronger immune stimulation.14 In the United States, where vaccination did not contain the ASO3 adjuvant, only 2 post-vaccination cases were documented......Nevertheless, these correlative findings indicate an urgent need for further examination of a possible link..."
"The publication of the letter from Dauvilliers et al 1 is likely to raise concerns about the safety of H1N1 vaccines, and in some circles, the safety of vaccines in general.....It is crucial that public policy and public health planning regarding vaccination or any other health measures be grounded on firm evidence rather than anecdote, suspicion, or the hypothesis of an association, as was made very clear from the tragic consequences of allowing initial reports (subsequently unconfirmed) of risk associations with MMR vaccine to receive premature and undeserved credibility.7,8 Scientific proof and consensus, not speculation and suspicion, are the requisite criteria for action when lives hang in the balance.....The public must know what risks may be associated with novel vaccines, as well as the risks of electing not to receive vaccines, so that they can make informed decisions about their use. Truly informed decisions must ultimately involve more than concern over risk—they require evidence that can meet scientific standards of proof."Association between Narcolepsy and H1N1 Exposure, Carole L. Marcus, Sleep. 2011 June 1; 34(6): 687.
"I would caution anyone against making assumptions based on anecdotal data, especially when the denominator is unknown. A large number of people were immunized against H1N1 last year, and by chance some of these people would be likely to develop narcolepsy."
Letter to the Editor—Mignot, SLEEP, Vol. 34, No. 6, 2011
"We thank Dr. Marcus for her insightful comment.1 There is no doubt that the association reported between H1N1 and narcolepsy could still be chance, although we find it increasingly unlikely.....Since we first reported this observation, the association between Pandemrix and narcolepsy has become even more likely. Of 33 million Europeans vaccinated with Pandemrix, approximately 160 have already developed narcolepsy,....As it takes years before narcolepsy is diagnosed, many more cases are likely to be present in this sample. Reviewing current evidence, the WHO is now suspecting a 9-fold increase in incidence in Finish children and adolescents."
"...Surprisingly, we also found that many post-H1N1 subjects were positive for ASO2 (as in prior samples4) suggesting a role for recent strep throat infections.4,5.....We suggest that two factors are needed for the development of narcolepsy: (1) a specific immune–mimicry component,....and (2) nonspecific factors, such as adjuvants, flu or strep infections, streptococcus superantigens, and other factors. These nonspecific effects may reactivate dormant T cell cones, increase blood brain penetration of peripheral immune responses....."
Increased Incidence and Clinical Picture of Childhood Narcolepsy following the 2009 H1N1 Pandemic Vaccination Campaign in Finland, M Partinen et al , 2012 , PLoS ONE,
"We observed a 17-fold increase in the annual incidence of narcolepsy in 2010 as compared to previous years in children aged under 17 years of age. A common feature in the history of our 54 newly diagnosed childhood narcoleptic patients was that 50 children had received an adjuvanted pandemic influenza vaccine (Pandemrix) within 8 months before the onset of symptoms. In most cases, the development of symptoms was fast. We consider it likely that Pandemrix vaccination contributed to the increased incidence of narcolepsy in Finland in 2010 in HLA DQB1*0602 positive children. Our observations warrant further studies on the role of different environmental factors as well as pathogenetic studies to understand how a vaccination/adjuvant and other environmental triggers can cause narcolepsy."
Post H1N1 Vaccination narcolepsy-cataplexy with decreased CSF beta-amyloid ,Letters To The Editors - Sleep Medicine 13 (2012) 321-323 Kallweit et al
"We present the first confirmed case of NC [Narcolepsy-Cataplexy] after vaccination in Germany.....A 17-year-old girl reported the sudden onset of excessive daytime sleepiness and frequent cataplexies (30/day) about four weeks after H1N1 flu vaccination on Nov 17th, 2009 with Pandemrix....beta-amyloid in csf was152 mg/l (normal > 500 mg/l)...anti-Streptococcal antibodies (ASO) were 790 IE/ml (normal < 200 IE/ml: and anti-DNase B (ADB) antibodies were 1010 IU/ml (normal < 200 IU/ml)....Beta -amyloid is not only of relevance in dementia processes but is also reported to modulate the response to environmental stressors in the brain, and is supposed to have antimicrobrial properties against different classes of microorganism, including some strains of streptococci. In recent onset NC, elevated ASO are found....Our case is in line with previous findings of rapid and severe development of NC symptoms after H1N1 vaccination"
Could Autoimmunity Be Induced by Vaccination?
"Molecular mimicry is based on the structural similarity between micro-organisms and host antigens, such as either the epitopes recognized by anti-group A β-haemolytic Streptococcus antibodies cross reacting with heart tissue host antigens in rheumatic fever  or the produced monoclonal antibodies to measles and herpes viruses cross reacting with self proteins ...."
"Bystander activation is mainly inferred from studies of experimental animal models and it is based on the release of sequestered self
antigens from the infected host tissue, leading to activation of antigen presenting cells, able to stimulate preprimed dormant autoreactive
T-cell clones . Alternatively, virus-specific T-cells may initiate the process by killing the virus-infected cells aftermigrating to the affected
organ, thus releasing self antigen and contributing, with macrophages, to the local high cytokine levels and consequent inflammation ."
"New onset of auto-antibodies not accompanied by any clinical disease after different vaccine administration has been described. Already
at the beginning of the 1960s.....a transient rise of rheumatoid factor (RF) after immunization of healthy people or rheumatoid arthritis
(RA) patients with a variety of vaccines, including tetanus toxoid (TT), typhoid-paratyphoid A and B (TAB), diphtheria, polio, smallpox, and
mumps [20, 21].."
"..Recently, Toplak et al. observed an increase or appearance of auto-antibodies in 15 and 13% of 92 apparently healthy medical workers (with a baseline high rate of auto-antibody positivity), 1 and 6 months after flu vaccination, respectively, suggesting de novo induction of auto-antibodies after influenza vaccination in selected individuals...recombinant HB vaccine has been associated with MS onset for the first time in two patients in 1991 , then in 35 young women ....GBS has also been associated with different vaccines, including rabies, polio (no more confirmed as responsible in later studies [38, 39]), TT, Bacillus Calmette-Gu´erin (BCG), smallpox, mumps, rubella, HB [Hepatitis B], and diphtheria . However, its strongest association, probably as a consequence of a molecular mimicry process, is with swine influenza.....probably due to cross-reacting antibodies against peripheral nerve gangliosides that may develop after vaccination with the influenza virus of swine origin.....SLE cases have been described in a period ranging from days to up to one
year following HB vaccination .Arthritis has also been associated with immunizations, mainly HB vaccine [166–170]."
"Borrelia burgdorferi sensu stricto with OspA is strictly reminiscent of that of group A β-haemolytic Streptococcus M proteins and tropomyosin  . OspA and M5 protein, in fact, share antigenic similarity , such that in the preparation of a rheumatic fever vaccine , the crucial point of molecular mimicry should also very carefully be taken into account. More recently, Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B has been recognized having a capsular polysaccharide identical to the capsular polysaccharide of Escherichia coli K1 and Pasteurella haemolytica A2  and to the surface component of many fetal and adult mammalian tissues and of the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) [56–58], thus creating concern that vaccine-induced specific antibodies may be dangerous by exerting autoimmune pathology ."
"The mechanism of bystander activation should probably be invoked when the vaccine composition contains many pro-inflammatory non
specific antigens, including the lipid A fraction of lipopolysaccharides (LPSs) , acting as adjuvants, such as the poorly purified vaccines (whole-cell pertussis, TAB), able to strongly stimulate innate immunity through the Toll-like receptors (TLRs).....Bystander activation may also be invoked for the adjuvants, which are substances able to “accelerate, prolong, or enhance antigen-specific immune responses” .
"In conclusion, the relationship between vaccinations and autoimmune diseases should be considered in a complex and bidirectional
way; vaccinations, in fact, prevent infections, which may in turn trigger autoimmunity, but, on the other hand, vaccinations themselves, by a
specific mechanism of molecular mimicry, or a non specific mechanism of bystander activation or finally by yet unknown mechanisms, may
trigger autoimmunity ."
What we see here is research showing strong connections of vaccine injury leading to an autoimmune disease. We can even see biological mechanisms and a pattern among victims. Another pattern is the one we see of denial, of attempts to minimize these catastrophic injuries. It is when there is that strong connection of evidence that we then see the attacks on not only the research but the researchers. MMR vaccine and the research done by Dr. Andrew Wakefield and other researchers is a pertinent example.
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor to Age of Autism.