Elevated Aluminum Levels in the Brains of Alzheimers Disease Patients?

One of the most fundamental arguments in this debate is the presence of elevated aluminum levels in the brain tissue and the surrounding cerebralspinal fluid (CSF). Collectively, a majority of all the reviewed studies concurrred with the conclusion that the concentration of aluminum was greater in the brains of AD patients than those not afflicted with the disease. For example, a study led by M. Hollosi showed that the aluminum levels in AD patients ranged between 6 and 12 parts per million (ppm) in lesion containing areas and between 0 and 15 ppm in areas that had not gone through any noticeable degeneration, which is much higher than the amount found in non-Alzheimer disease brains1.

Another study, led by P. Evans, states that, "of the various environmental factors that have been implicated, the one with the greatest amount of supportive evidence is aluminum"2. In the studies found that opposed the majority's consensus, methodological practices were cited as the major cause of discrepancies between the two conclusions, such as not taking into account the taclum powder inside latex examination gloves. M. Lovell and his group showed that samples analyzed and corrected for multiple substances that interfered with the measurement of the aluminum level reflected a nonexistent to minimal elevation in the concentration of aluminum in AD patients, also citing other groups that had failed to find a difference in aluminum amounts3.

Also contradicting the norm is a study focusing on the concentration of aluminum in the CSF, led by E. Kopaki. This group pointed out the controversial argument dealing with poor sampling and handling of samples and inferior analysis procedures for the level of aluminum present in previous studies of CSF. Being careful to follow a strict procedure to avoid contamination of samples and a control group with which to compare the results, the Kopaki group concluded that any possible increase in the aluminum concentration level in the brain is not evident in the CSF4.

1 Hollosi, Miklos et al. "Stable Intrachain and Intrachain complexes of neurofilament peptides: A putative link between Al and Alzheimer disease." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 91 (1994): 4902-4906.
2 Evans, Peter H. "Aluminum and Trace Element Oxidative Interactions in the Etiopathogenesis of Alzheimers Disease."
3 Lovell, M.A. et al. "Laser Microprobe Analysis of Brain Aluminum in Alzheimers Disease." Annals of Neurology. 33 (1993): 36-42.
4 Kopaki, E.N. et al. "Cerebralspinal Fluid Aluminum Levels in Alzheimers Disease." Biological Psychiatry. 33 (1993): 679-681.

Jennifer McGilton
6 November 1997