Vaccination and autoimmune diseases: is prevention of adverse health effects on the horizon?

EPMA J. 2017 Jul 20;8(3):295-311. doi: 10.1007/s13167-017-0101-y. eCollection 2017 Sep.


Autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes mellitus, affect about 5% of the worldwide population. In the last decade, reports have accumulated on various autoimmune disorders, such as idiopathic thrombocytopenia purpura, myopericarditis, primary ovarian failure, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), following vaccination. In this review, we discuss the possible underlying mechanisms of autoimmune reactions following vaccinations and review cases of autoimmune diseases that have been correlated with vaccination. Molecular mimicry and bystander activation are reported as possible mechanisms by which vaccines can cause autoimmune reactions. The individuals who might be susceptible to develop these reactions could be especially not only those with previous post-vaccination phenomena and those with allergies but also in individuals who are prone to develop autoimmune diseases, such as those with a family history of autoimmunity or with known autoantibodies, and the genetic predisposed individuals. Further research is encouraged into the direct associations between vaccines and autoimmune conditions, and the biological mechanisms behind them.

Keywords: Diabetes; Genetic test; Individualized patient profile; Multiple sclerosis; Predictive preventive personalized medicine; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review