Aluminum Adjuvant-Containing Vaccines in the Context of the Hygiene Hypothesis: A Risk Factor for Eosinophilia and Allergy in a Genetically Susceptible Subpopulation?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 May 3;15(5):901. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15050901.


There are similarities between the immune response following immunization with aluminum adjuvants and the immune response elicited by some helminthic parasites, including stimulation of immunoglobulin E (IgE) and eosinophilia. Immunization with aluminum adjuvants, as with helminth infection, induces a Th2 type cell mediated immune response, including eosinophilia, but does not induce an environment conducive to the induction of regulatory mechanisms. Helminths play a role in what is known as the hygiene hypothesis, which proposes that decreased exposure to microbes during a critical time in early life has resulted in the increased prevalence and morbidity of asthma and atopic disorders over the past few decades, especially in Western countries. In addition, gut and lung microbiome composition and their interaction with the immune system plays an important role in a properly regulated immune system. Disturbances in microbiome composition are a risk factor for asthma and allergies. We propose that immunization with aluminum adjuvants in general is not favorable for induction of regulatory mechanisms and, in the context of the hygiene hypothesis and microbiome theory, can be viewed as an amplifying factor and significant contributing risk factor for allergic diseases, especially in a genetically susceptible subpopulation.

Keywords: IgE; allergy; aluminum; asthma; eosinophil; hygiene hypothesis; vaccination.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adjuvants, Immunologic / administration & dosage*
  • Aluminum / administration & dosage*
  • Animals
  • Eosinophilia* / genetics
  • Eosinophilia* / immunology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Helminthiasis / immunology
  • Humans
  • Hygiene Hypothesis
  • Hypersensitivity* / genetics
  • Hypersensitivity* / immunology
  • Immunization
  • Microbiota
  • Risk Factors
  • Vaccines / administration & dosage*


  • Adjuvants, Immunologic
  • Vaccines
  • Aluminum