Alzheimer's disease and exposure to vaccines

November 26, 2001

While the cause of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is unknown, it has been speculated that the immune processes play a role.

As part of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, René Verreault and colleagues prospectively studied the possible relationship between exposure to vaccines and the risk of AD. Of 4392 community-living subjects who were cognitively unimpaired at baseline, 183 developed AD in the next 5 years. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to compare those who were and were not vaccinated, adjusting for age, sex and education. Past vaccinations were associated with a lower risk of developing AD (odds ratio [OR] 0.41, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.27-0.62 for tetanus and diphtheria; OR 0.60, 95% CI 0.37-0.9 for poliomyelitis; OR 0.75, 95% CI 0.54-1.04 for influenza).

While the authors state that their findings may result from the limited quality of available data on exposure to vaccines, the findings do support recent reports suggesting that both aging and Alzheimer's disease may involve changes in immune responses.
p. 1495 Past exposure to vaccines and subsequent risk of Alzheimer's disease - R. Verreault

René Verreault, Laval University Geriatric Research Unit, Centre d'hébergement Saint-Augustin du Centre hospitalier affilié universitaire de Quebec, Beauport, Quebec; tel 418 667-3910, email:

Canadian Medical Association Journal

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