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Biochemistry. 1989 May 2;28(9):3911-5.

Effects of aluminum and other cations on the structure of brain and liver chromatin.

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Division of Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.


The reactivity of aluminum and several other divalent and trivalent metallic cations toward chromatin from rat brain and liver has been investigated. Two criteria are used to determine the relative reactivity of these cations toward chromatin. The first involves the ability of the ions to compact the chromatin fibers to the point where chromatin precipitates. The second criterion measures the ability of cations to interfere with the accessibility of exogenous structural probes (nucleases) to chromatin. Of the divalent cations tested, nickel, cobalt, zinc, cadmium, and mercury were the most reactive toward chromatin, on the basis of their ability to induce precipitation of chromatin in the micromolar concentration range. The divalent cations magnesium, calcium, copper, strontium, and barium were much less effective, although all cations precipitate chromatin if their concentration is increased. Of the trivalent cations tested, aluminum, indium, and gallium were very effective precipitants, whereas iron and scandium were without effect at the concentrations tested. Of all the cations tested, aluminum was the most reactive. Aluminum's ability to alter the structure of chromatin was investigated further by testing its ability to interfere with nuclease accessibility. This test confirmed that aluminum does induce considerable changes in chromatin structure at micromolar concentrations. Furthermore, chromatin from cortical areas of the brain was much more sensitive to aluminum than chromatin from liver. These results are discussed in light of the known toxicity of these cations, with particular emphasis on the possible role of aluminum in Alzheimer's disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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