[Source] A study out of China is the first to test the effects of immune activation by vaccination (hep B/BCG) on brain development in rats. Results indicate vaccines containing an aluminum adjuvant (i.e., hep B) spike cytokine levels in the hippocampus region of the brain, in particular the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6), the key cytokine known for its dysregulating effect on neuronal circuitry and the key cytokine implicated in autism.
History of research into immune activation and autism
Before we get into the China study, it’s important to understand all of the previous research leading up to it.
In 2006, late Caltech scientist Dr. Paul Patterson and his colleagues were among the first to discover the implications of maternal immune activation and brain development in offspring.
In an article published in the Engineering & Science journal, titled “Pregnancy, Immunity, Schizophrenia, and Autism,” Patterson wrote that “brain-immune conversation actually starts during the development of the embryo, where the state of the mother’s immune system can alter the growth of cells in the fetal brain.”
Patterson and his team built on the work led by Carlos Pardo at Johns Hopkins, which discovered “neural inflammation” in postmortem examination of brains of patients with autism. Strangely, these autistic patients did not die due to any infections that would have caused the inflammation.
This research was the first to suggest “an ongoing, permanent immune-system activation in the brains of autistic people.”
In 2007 Patterson took this research further, publishing a study that found the culprit of this chronic brain inflammation — cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6).
Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that aid cell to cell communication, stimulating the movement of cells toward sites of inflammation, infection, and trauma.