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Recent Developments in Aluminium Toxicology

Summary

Aluminium is now recognised as an important toxin causing considerable morbidity and mortality, particularly in patients with chronic renal failure. Diseases that have been associated with aluminium include dialysis dementia, renal osteodystrophy and Alzheimer’s disease. Aluminium also has an effect on red blood cells, parathyroid glands and chromosomes.

Accumulation of aluminium in the body tends to occur when the gastrointestinal barrier is circumvented. This has been identified as a problem during dialysis or intravenous fluid administration. Renal functional impairment results in decreased aluminium excretion and promotes accumulation of the element in the body.

Many sources have been shown to be contaminated with aluminium. These include the water used for dialysis; medicines containing aluminium, such as aluminium-containing phosphate binding gels; total parenteral nutrition solutions; processed human serum albumin; intravenous fluids in infants; and other environmental and industrial sources.

The management of aluminium toxicity involves the identification of these contaminated sources and subsequent removal of the element. This includes regular monitoring of water used in dialysis. The use of aluminium-containing phosphate binding gels in patients with compromised renal function should be reviewed and alternatives sought. The development of effective aluminium-free phosphate binders is desirable. Once a patient has aluminium toxicity, desferrioxamine (deferoxamine) has been shown to be an effective agent in its chelation and removal.

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Monteagudo, F.S.E., Cassidy, M.J.D. & Folb, P.I. Recent Developments in Aluminium Toxicology. Med Toxicol Adverse Drug Exp 4, 1–16 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF03259899

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Keywords

  • Chronic Renal Failure
  • Phosphate Binder
  • Desferrioxamine
  • Aluminium Toxicity
  • Renal Osteodystrophy