Multiple sclerosis and hepatitis B vaccination: could minute contamination of the vaccine by partial hepatitis B virus polymerase play a role through molecular mimicry?
Med Hypotheses. 2005;65(3):509-20. PMID: 15908138
E.R. Biodiversity and Environment, case 5, University of Provence, Place Victor Hugo, 13331 Marseilles cedex 3, France. email@example.com
Reports of multiple sclerosis developing after hepatitis B vaccination have led to the concern that this vaccine might be a cause of multiple sclerosis in previously healthy subjects. Some articles evidenced that minor Hepatitis B virus (HBV) polymerase proteins could be produced by alternative transcriptional or translational strategies. Their detection is very difficult because they are in minute concentration and probably enzymatically inactive, however, it was shown that they could be exposed on the outside of the virus particles and also be immunogenic. In addition, HBV polymerase shares significant amino acid similarities with the human myelin basic protein. We hypothesise that some of the apparent adverse reactions to the vaccine could be due to a process called of molecular mimicry, the HBV polymerase, which could be a contaminant in the recombinant or plasma-derived vaccines, could act as autoantigens and induce autoimmune demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis.