Aluminium in Brain Tissue in Non‑neurodegenerative/ Non‑neurodevelopmental Disease: A Comparison with Multiple Sclerosis

Authors : C. Linhart · D. Davidson · S. Pathmanathan · T. Kamaladas · C. Exley


Human exposure to aluminium is a burgeoning issue. The brain is a sink for systemically available aluminium and a putative target of neurotoxicity. An increasing number of studies continue to confirm the presence of aluminium in human brain tissue though primarily in relation to donors who have died of a neurodegenerative or neurodevelopmental disorder.

Herein, we have measured aluminium in brain tissue in donors who died of a specific disease or condition though without showing any neurodegeneration. The donors were diagnosed as not suffering from multiple sclerosis. Herein, these novel data are compared with recent data on aluminium in brain tissue in multiple sclerosis. Brain tissues from all four lobes were obtained from the Multiple Sclerosis Society Tissue Bank.

Tissues were digested using microwave-assisted acid digestion and their aluminium content was measured by transversely heated graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometry. Both are established methods in our laboratory. Detailed statistical analyses were used to compare new data with recent data for multiple sclerosis.

Aluminium was found in brain tissue in each donor with a high proportion of measurements (189/291) being below 1.00 μg/g dry weight. The data for all cases (median and IQR) were 0.74 (0.48–1.28), 1.23 (0.62–1.63), 0.84 (0.45–1.14) and 1.01 (0.62–1.65) μg/g dry weight for occipital, parietal, temporal and frontal lobes, respectively.

There was a statistically significant positive correlation between aluminium content of brain tissue and the age of donor. Comparison of data for this non-multiple sclerosis group with brain aluminium data for donors dying with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis showed that the latter had a statistically significant higher content of brain aluminium.

The data reinforce a previous conclusion that the aluminium content of brain tissue in multiple sclerosis is elevated and support the suggestion that human exposure to aluminium may have a role to play in the aetiology of multiple sclerosis.

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