Aluminium assay and evaluation of the local reaction at several time points after intramuscular administration of aluminium containing vaccines in the Cynomolgus monkey

Vaccine. 2005 Feb 3;23(11):1359-67. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2004.09.012.


Aluminium hydroxide and aluminium phosphate have been widely used as vaccine adjuvants with a good safety record for several decades. The recent observation in human deltoid muscle of macrophage aggregates containing aluminium hydroxide spicules and termed Macrophagic Myofasciitis (MMF) has encouraged research on aluminium salts. This study was conducted in order to further investigate the clearance of aluminium at the vaccine injection site and the features of induced histopathological lesions. Two groups of 12 monkeys were immunised in the quadriceps muscle with Diphtheria-Tetanus vaccines, which were adjuvanted with either aluminium hydroxide or aluminium phosphate. Three, six or twelve months after vaccination, four monkeys from each group were sacrificed and histopathological examination and aluminium assays were performed on quadriceps muscle sections. Histopathological lesions, similar to the MMF described in humans, were observed and were still present 3 months after aluminium phosphate and 12 months after aluminium hydroxide adjuvanted vaccine administration. An increase in aluminium concentration, more marked in the area of the lesions, was also observed at the 3- and 6-month time points. These findings were localised at the injection site and no similar changes were observed in the distal or proximal muscle fragments. We conclude from this study that aluminium adjuvanted vaccines administered by the intramuscular route trigger histopathological changes restricted to the area around the injection site which persist for several months but are not associated with abnormal clinical signs.

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / pharmacokinetics*
  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / toxicity
  • Aluminum Compounds / administration & dosage
  • Aluminum Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Aluminum Compounds / toxicity
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / administration & dosage
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / pharmacokinetics*
  • Aluminum Hydroxide / toxicity
  • Animals
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine / administration & dosage*
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine / chemistry
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine / pharmacokinetics
  • Injections, Intramuscular
  • Macaca fascicularis
  • Male
  • Muscles / chemistry
  • Muscles / pathology
  • Phosphates / administration & dosage
  • Phosphates / pharmacokinetics*
  • Phosphates / toxicity
  • Time Factors


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Aluminum Compounds
  • Diphtheria-Tetanus Vaccine
  • Phosphates
  • Aluminum Hydroxide
  • aluminum phosphate