A link between aluminum and Alzheimer's disease has been hypothesized for many years, even though scientists have never agreed on the subject. In recent times, however, more and more evidence of this link is emerging and a study published a few days ago seems to take a further step forward, showing not only the existence of this link but also the process by which aluminum could become part of the trigger of neurodegeneration. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease Reports by a British team (Mold et al, J Alzheimers Dis, 2021).
How can we come into contact with aluminum
Aluminum is a metal with which we can generally come into contact through food. Aluminum-based food additives have been reduced for several years, however, aluminum can migrate to food when there is contact with tools or materials to store or pack it. This occurs especially when the food is sour or salty, but also when the food and its aluminum container are subjected to high temperatures, such as cooking in foil on the grill. There are also cosmetics and medicines containing aluminum. Aluminum tends to accumulate in the body especially in the case of poor kidney function.
The link between aluminum and Alzheimer's, the study
In recent times the link between aluminum and the onset of Alzheimer's disease is emerging more and more clearly. A contribution to this subject is being given by two professors, doctors Mold and Exley, authors of the study we are talking about today. The researchers, in fact, studied the localization of aluminum in the tissues of people suffering from an early form of Alzheimer's, which occurs before the age of 65, using immunolabeling and fluorescence techniques. Alzheimer's, in all its forms, both early and senile, is characterized by accumulations of beta amyloid proteins, easier to identify because they are external to the cells, and by aggregates of tau proteins, which are more difficult to analyze as they are intracellular. Both of these aggregates are toxic to brain tissues, hence the loss of function of neurons and the cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease. Well, the British researchers were able to observe a high presence of aluminum both in amyloid beta aggregates and in those of tau proteins. This significant presence of aluminum was not observed in the brains of healthy people. Not only that, on the basis of the data available, the researchers were able to affirm that in its first phase Alzheimer's disease is characterized by the accumulations of beta amyloid proteins and only subsequently does it also present the formation of tau protein aggregates. Aluminum plays a decisive role in the advancement of these stages and this allows us to hypothesize that aluminum may favor the accumulation of both beta amyloid and tau proteins.
Less aluminum is better
The researchers conclude their work by stating that a reduction of the aluminum present in the body could bring benefits in the treatment to combat Alzheimer's.