Elevated brain aluminium and early onset Alzheimer's disease in worker exposed to aluminium

February 13, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Research at Keele University in Staffordshire has shown for the first time that an individual who was exposed to aluminium at work and died of Alzheimer's disease had high levels of aluminium in the brain.

While is a known neurotoxin and occupational exposure to aluminium has been implicated in neurological disease, including Alzheimer's disease, this finding is believed to be the first record of a direct link between Alzheimer's disease and elevated brain aluminium following occupational exposure to the metal.

In 2003 a 58-year-old Caucasian male with no previous medical history of note was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Ten years previous to this the man, from the north-east of England, began to work with the preparation of a novel material (DARMATT KM1) used as insulation in the nuclear fuel and space industries. This work exposed him to aluminium sulphate 'dust' on a daily basis over 8 years. An 'ordinary' dust mask was supplied to protect against inhalation of the materials. Within a short time of starting this work the man complained of headaches, tiredness and mouth ulcers. By 1999 he started to show problems in relation to memory and suffered depression.

Following his death, aged 66, in 2011, a neuropathological examination confirmed advance stage Alzheimer's disease. There then followed the most comprehensive investigation ever of the aluminium content of the frontal lobe of a single individual with 49 different tissue samples being measured for aluminium.

Professor Chris Exley, of The Birchall Centre, at Keele University, said: "The results showed unequivocally that the contained an average aluminium content which was at least four times higher than might be expected for an age-matched control brain.

"The observation that air-borne aluminium dust was most likely responsible for the elevated levels of aluminium in the brain must then heavily implicate the nose and possibly the lungs as the main routes of entry of aluminium into the body and the brain.

"Overall, these results suggest very strongly that to aluminium contributed significantly to the untimely death of this individual with Alzheimer's disease."

Explore further: Action is needed now to lower the content of aluminium in infant formulas

More information: "Elevated brain aluminium and early onset Alzheimer's disease in an individual occupationally exposed to aluminium: a case report." Christopher Exley and Thomas Vickers. Journal of Medical Case Reports, 2014, 8:41  DOI: 10.1186/1752-1947-8-41

Related Stories

Action is needed now to lower the content of aluminium in infant formulas

October 10, 2013
New research from Keele University shows that infant formulas are still heavily contaminated with aluminium.

Does aluminium cause Alzheimer's and breast cancer?

April 1, 2013
Silvery, ductile, malleable and so very, very useful, aluminium is the most common metal in the Earth's crust. But despite its importance (or perhaps because of it), there are fears that this metal causes everything from ...

Amyloid beta in the brain of individuals with Alzheimer's disease

March 30, 2012
While there may not be a consensus whether deposition of amyloid beta contributes to Alzheimer's disease or is a consequence of it, there is agreement that something else is promoting the process. Other proteins are often ...

Two parents with Alzheimer's disease? Disease may show up decades early on brain scans

February 12, 2014
People who are dementia-free but have two parents with Alzheimer's disease may show signs of the disease on brain scans decades before symptoms appear, according to a new study published in the February 12, 2014, online issue ...

Recommended for you

Delayed word processing could predict patients' potential to develop Alzheimer's disease

October 20, 2017
A delayed neurological response to processing the written word could be an indicator that a patient with mild memory problems is at an increased risk of developing Alzheimer's disease, research led by the University of Birmingham ...

PET scans for Alzheimer's could bring benefit to more patients

October 19, 2017
An imaging tool honed to spot rogue proteins in the brain could benefit some patients with suspected Alzheimer's, according to a new study.

One step closer toward a treatment for Alzheimer's disease?

October 18, 2017
Scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), in collaboration with colleagues at the University California, San Diego (UCSD), have characterized a new class of drugs as potential therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease ...

New mechanism detected in Alzheimer's disease

October 13, 2017
McGill University researchers have discovered a cellular mechanism that may contribute to the breakdown of communication between neurons in Alzheimer's disease.

Neuroscientists identify genetic changes in microglia in a mouse model of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer's disease

October 13, 2017
Microglia, immune cells that act as the central nervous system's damage sensors, have recently been implicated in Alzheimer's disease.

Green tea extract delivers molecular punch to disrupt formation of neurotoxic species

October 11, 2017
Green tea is widely considered to be beneficial for the brain. The antioxidant and detoxifying properties of green tea extracts help fight catastrophic diseases such as Alzheimer's. However, scientists have never fully understood ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.