Current status of vaccines in psychiatry-A narrative review

Asian J Psychiatr. 2018 Jan;31:112-120. doi: 10.1016/j.ajp.2018.02.004. Epub 2018 Feb 15.


Introduction: Vaccines are one of the newer therapeutic modalities being researched in psychiatric illnesses with limited role of pharmacological interventions. Preclinical studies on vaccines have shown favorable results in conditions like Substance use Disorders and Alzheimer's Dementia. However, the utility of Mumps Measles Rubella vaccine has been overshadowed by controversy linked to causation of Autism. With this background, the current narrative review aimed to comprehensively and critically evaluate the current status of vaccines in Psychiatric illnesses.

Methods: Preliminary literature search using the electronic databases of MEDLINE and Google Scholar between May 1967 and May 2017 using the search terms "Vaccines" and "Psychiatry" was carried out and articles were found in the following areas of research: Substance use, Alzheimer Dementia, Autism, Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Human Papilloma Virus Further, the refined search was done using combinations of search terms "Vaccine", "Nicotine", "Cocaine", "Opioid", "Alzheimer Dementia", "Autism", and "Pervasive Developmental Disorders" and peer - reviewed original articles published in English conducted among human subjects and published in English language were included for review.

Results: A total of 31 articles found eligible were organized into appropriate sections synthesizing the literature on role of vaccines in specific disorders such as Substance Use Disorders, Alzheimer Dementia and Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

Discussion: The therapeutic potential of vaccines in Substance Use Disorders and Alzheimer Dementia was found to be limited in comparison to the results from animal studies. Safety profile of the immunogens and the adjuvants in humans is possibly the most important limitation. No causal association between Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine and Autism was found.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s Dementia; Autism; Psychiatry; Substance use disorder; Vaccines.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use*
  • Mental Disorders / immunology*
  • Mental Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Vaccination*
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Immunologic Factors
  • Vaccines