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Absence of aluminium in neuritic plaque cores in Alzheimer's disease


CONTROVERSY exists over whether aluminium has a role in the aetiology of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's disease is neuropathologically characterized by the occurrence of a minimum density of neurofibrillary tangles and neuritic plaques in the hippocampus and the association cortex of the brain1,2. The purported association of aluminium with Alzheimer's disease is based on: (1) the experimental induction of fibrillary changes in the neurons of animals by the injection of aluminium salts into brain tissue3,4; (2) reported detection of aluminium in neuritic plaques5–8 and tangle-bearing neurons9,10; (3) epidemiological studies linking aluminium levels in the environment, notably water supplies, with an increased prevalence of dementia11–14; and (4) a reported decrease in the rate of disease progression following the administration of desferroxamine, an aluminium chelator, to clinically diagnosed sufferers of Alzheimer's disease15. Here we use nuclear microscopy, a new analytical technique involving million-volt nuclear particles, to identify and analyse plaques in postmortem tissue from patients with Alzheimer's disease without using chemical staining techniques and fail to demonstrate the presence of aluminium in plaque cores in untreated tissue.

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Landsberg, J., McDonald, B. & Watt, F. Absence of aluminium in neuritic plaque cores in Alzheimer's disease. Nature 360, 65–68 (1992).

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