Aluminum and Alzheimer's disease, a personal perspective after 25 years.
J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 ;9(3 Suppl):291-300. PMID: 17004365
Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Pathology, Neuropathology Division, USA.
It is now 25 years since the publication of our original paper investigating the association aluminum with Alzheimer's disease. This publication reported on the results of scanning electron microscopy coupled x-ray spectrometry microprobe elemental studies of both neurofibrillary tangle-bearing and tangle-free neurons in the hippocampus of cases of Alzheimer's disease and controls. Peaks related to the presence of aluminum were consistently detected within the tangle-bearing neurons. This paper supported the association of aluminum and Alzheimer's disease on the cellular level of resolution and caused considerable interest and discussion. Subsequent work demonstrated prominent evidence of aluminum accumulation in the tangle-bearing neurons of cases of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism-dementia complex of Guam. This latter observation has now been replicated using five different forms of microanalysis. Finally, using laser microprobe mass analysis, we demonstrated that the abnormally high aluminum-related signal which we originally detected was actually located within the neurofibrillary tangle, itself, and was accompanied by excess concentrations of iron. Although it is unlikely that aluminum represents an etiologic cause of Alzheimer's disease, we believe that this highly reactive element, known to cross-link hyperphosphorylated proteins, may play an active role in the pathogenesis of critical neuropathologic lesion in Alzheimer's disease and other related disorders.