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J Inorg Biochem. 2009 Nov;103(11):1579-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2009.07.023. Epub 2009 Aug 15.

Demonstration of aluminum in amyloid fibers in the cores of senile plaques in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

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Yumoto Institute of Neurology, Kawadacho 6-11, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0054, Japan.


Aluminum (Al) exposure has been reported to be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (senile dementia of Alzheimer type), although the role of Al in the etiology of Alzheimer's disease remains controversial. We examined the presence of Al in the Alzheimer's brain using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy combined with transmission electron microscopy (TEM-EDX). TEM-EDX analysis allows simultaneous imaging of subcellular structures with high spatial resolution and analysis of small quantities of elements contained in the same subcellular structures. We identified senile plaques by observation using TEM and detected Al in amyloid fibers in the cores of senile plaques located in the hippocampus and the temporal lobe by EDX. Phosphorus and calcium were also present in the amyloid fibers. No Al could be detected in the extracellular space in senile plaques or in the cytoplasm of nerve cells. In this study, we demonstrated colocalization of Al and beta-amyloid (Abeta) peptides in amyloid fibers in the cores of senile plaques. The results support the following possibilities in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease: Al could be involved in the aggregation of Abeta peptides to form toxic fibrils; Al might induce Abeta peptides into the beta-sheet structure; and Al might facilitate iron-mediated oxidative reactions, which cause severe damage to brain tissues.

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