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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 51 (2009) 10, 751 - 759

Review article

Vaccinations in psychiatry

A. Dols, W. van den Brink, P. Eikelenboom

background Vaccination is a well-known strategy for preventing and treating infections. The purpose of vaccinations is to render antigens harmless by the production of antibodies. In psychiatry there are also situations where antigens that have been introduced from outside or that have developed during an illness constitute a threat to the patient's health.
aim To explore the possible applications of vaccination in psychiatry.
method In this article we discuss the applications of vaccination in psychiatry on the basis of two examples.
results In addiction research, trials are being conducted with antibodies against substances such as cocaine and nicotine in order to prevent such addictive substances from crossing the bloodbrain barrier and thereby initiating their rewarding effect. The first clinical results are very promising, but vaccines have not yet been applied clinically. With regard to Alzheimer's disease it has been shown by means of animal models that specific antibodies can prevent Aβ aggregation and dissolve existing aggregates. On the basis of these findings various large-scale clinical trials have begun in order to study immunotherapy for Alzheimer's disease. The first clinical results showed little neurocognitive effects. A wellknown study had to be terminated because of side-effects of the therapy, in the form of neuro-encephalitis.
conclusion Our tentative conclusion is that the clinical application of immunotherapy in psychiatry still has its limitations, but is indeed promising.


keywords Alzheimer's disease, cocaine, immunotherapy, prevention, vaccination