VACCINE INJURY: First the Gut, Then the Brain

VACCINE INJURY: First the Gut, Then the Brain

Image credit Hundertwasser, Vase Tree Man, 1974

When we think about vaccine injuries such as autism and epilepsy, we generally consider a direct assault on the brain. But the reality may be far different where injury begins in the gut, leading to brain damage. This article will explore potential mechanisms of gut-brain injuries by vaccination.

As with Parts 1 and 2, we'll consider individual microbial predisposition as crucial to susceptibility to intestinal injury. The theory is that protective microbes such as Bifidobacteria are why some people appear to escape injury while others are not so fortunate.

Neurodegenerative diseases including multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are strongly associated with gut dysbiosis where these problems are now thought to begin in the gut. Diabetes and obesity are associated with brain inflammation. Gut-brain is known to be a two-way street, so diabetes and obesity are improved by reversing brain inflammation. In fact, 90% of fibers in the vagus nerve travel from gut to brain, not brain to gut, surprising and unsettling.

So, to consider vaccine injury as beginning in the gut isn't such a stretch of the imagination. This connection began the controversy about vaccines and autism proposed by Andrew Wakefield. But the message was lost over the years as people focused on Thimerosal and direct damage to the brain by mercury. Yet the MMR vaccine does not and never did contain mercury. There's something else going on where vaccines harness the body's immune system, beginning in the gut, making some individuals their own worst enemy.

Studies have attempted to thwart the idea that vaccine injury begins in the gut. This study refuting the relationship of MMR and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) leading to autism found "only" 20% of subjects received MMR before the onset of gastrointestinal disturbances leading to autism. That's quite a large percentage! Such gastrointestinal complaints include constipation associated with low blood levels of serotonin. Given current technology, it would be important to know the microbial balance of these subjects to learn if they were absent or reduced in protective anti-inflammatory microbes such as Bifidobacteria.

Several studies were published before massive changes in technology allowed us to identify differences in microbial balance and new biomarkers of inflammation. They were written before it was common knowledge that human diversity includes microbial diversity. Nobody suspected individuals and races have different microbial makeup. Moreover, the fetal gastrointestinal tract was wrongly considered sterile, condoning vaccination within 12 hours of birth.

Intestinal injury caused by the rotavirus vaccine was recently added to the government compensation program for adverse events. This type of injury called intussusception is difficult to distinguish from necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) which occurs most frequently in preterm infants known to have different microbial balance based on gestational age according to new research. Colonization begins in the womb where the sequence occurs as follows: first Bacilli flourish, then Gammaproteobacteria such as E. coli become abundant and, finally, ClostridiaBifidobacteria then flourish with breastfeeding. Environmental factors such as c-section vs. vaginal birth and antibiotics do not affect this progression, though may slow it down. Knowing this, it should be alarming that current vaccine protocol for preterm infants is to treat as full term when weighing over 2.2 lbs. Perhaps preterm infants are at greater risk of autism because gut flora are predominantly Gammaproteobacteria at birth and this triggers an adverse immune response upon vaccination. Protective Bifidobacteria and potentially protective strains of Clostridia are not yet developed at birth.

Another illustration of the point that children are born with unique microbial footprint is a profound 2013 study of meconium from infants of diabetic and gestational diabetic mothers found enriched in Proteobacteria and Bacteroides. Bacteroides are known to train the immune system in Peyer's patches of the intestines, inducing high IgA production. Might this explain the Mayo Clinic conundrum where Somali immigrants react to rubella vaccination with twice the antibodies?

In most recent news regarding microbial predisposition, research linked gut bacteria passed generationally to susceptibility to gut injury. This is a new way of considering how traits are inherited through microbial DNA. Research detailed how vertical transmission of bacteria can make offspring more vulnerable to gut injury. Scientists used a chemical to test intestinal response, but what if this chemical were a vaccine? Such vaccine safety research is yet to be done, but scientists are using gnotobiotic pigs to successfully test probiotics used to guard against intestinal injury by rotavirus infection and improve vaccine response.


How can a gut injury lead to a brain injury?

Let's focus on serotonin imbalance related to glutamate excitotoxicity to answer this question. About 95% of the body's serotonin is produced in the gut, not the brain.  Gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and diarrhea are associated with serotonin imbalances in blood. In constipation, serotonin is retained in mucosal cells of the intestine leading to low levels in blood. In diarrhea, serotonin is released and inflammatory. But it's low levels of serotonin in blood which may be most associated with glutamate toxicity and brain damage. This construct is applied to SIDS, SUDEP, epilepsy and vaccine injury.

Experiments regarding serotonin levels altered by vaccination include dramatic changes in sensitivity to the lethal effects of serotonin. Some vaccines may dramatically increase serotonin, while others such as BCG (tuberculosis vaccine) appear to lower serotonin to the extent of SSRI resistance leading to depression. Thimerosal (mercury) was found to cause exocytotic release of serotonin. Sertotonin levels may rise and then fall dramatically in vaccination.

To illustrate the order of events from gut-to-brain (vaccination to gut disturbance to serotonin imbalance to glutamate excitotoxicity), we'll use Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as example. SIDS is the leading cause of death among infants one month to one year old. SIDS is associated with serotonin deficiency in the brainstem:

1)   A child is born with high levels of Proteobacteria, low levels of Lactobacilli and reduced or absent Bifidobacteria along with pathogenic strains of Clostridia and high gram-negative Bacteroides, an inflammatory microbial predisposition. Vitamin B12 and folate act as cofactors in synthesis of serotonin, both regulated by flora.

2)   Vaccination begins within 12 hours of birth and continues following CDC protocol of 23 vaccinations in the first year of life leading to constipation and low blood levels of serotonin. Antibiotic abuse in newborns may also be a factor, i.e., shifting flora to raise clostridia which cross-feed hydrogen and CO2 to methanogenic archaea where methane causes constipation. 

3)   It's stated boldly in many papers that serotonin doesn't cross blood-brain barrier (BBB) as if gut-derived serotonin doesn't enter the brain, yet papers show serotonin penetrates BBB. Serotonin may also cross BBB from the brain to circulating blood. Blood and brain serotonin levels are positively correlated. Alternatively, an infant with acute tryptophan depletion leads to serotonin deficiency in the brain where tryptophan level is dependent on gut microbiota and enhances immune response. Bifidobacteria are known to elevate tryptophan, precursor of serotonin, while reducing serotonin metabolites in the brain. Tryptophan depletion leading to low serotonin is also the result of hypoglycemia caused by vaccination. Blood sugar is regulated by flora where insulin removes competing amino acids allowing tryptophan into the brain.

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