Administration of thimerosal-containing vaccines to infant rhesus macaques does not result in autism-like behavior or neuropathology. Academic Article uri icon


  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder. Some anecdotal reports suggest that ASD is related to exposure to ethyl mercury, in the form of the vaccine preservative, thimerosal, and/or receiving the measles, mumps, rubella (MMR) vaccine. Using infant rhesus macaques receiving thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCVs) following the recommended pediatric vaccine schedules from the 1990s and 2008, we examined behavior, and neuropathology in three brain regions found to exhibit neuropathology in postmortem ASD brains. No neuronal cellular or protein changes in the cerebellum, hippocampus, or amygdala were observed in animals following the 1990s or 2008 vaccine schedules. Analysis of social behavior in juvenile animals indicated that there were no significant differences in negative behaviors between animals in the control and experimental groups. These data indicate that administration of TCVs and/or the MMR vaccine to rhesus macaques does not result in neuropathological abnormalities, or aberrant behaviors, like those observed in ASD.

published proceedings

  • Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

altmetric score

  • 692.804

author list (cited authors)

  • Gadad, B. S., Li, W., Yazdani, U., Grady, S., Johnson, T., Hammond, J., ... German, D. C.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Gadad, Bharathi S||Li, Wenhao||Yazdani, Umar||Grady, Stephen||Johnson, Trevor||Hammond, Jacob||Gunn, Howard||Curtis, Britni||English, Chris||Yutuc, Vernon||Ferrier, Clayton||Sackett, Gene P||Marti, C Nathan||Young, Keith||Hewitson, Laura||German, Dwight C

publication date

  • October 2015