Aluminium administered in drinking water but not in the diet influences biopterin metabolism in the rodent

Richard A. Armstrong, Juwa Anderson, Jim D. Cowburn, Juliette Cox, John A. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To investigate the neurotoxic effects of aluminium (Al) Al was administered: 1) in the diet of the rat (30 mg Al/kg body weight for 6 weeks); 2) as a suspension of aluminium acetate in drinking water of the rat for 3 months and 3) in a long-term study in the mouse in which aluminosilicates were incorporated into a pelleted diet (1035 mg/kg of food over 23 months). In the latter treatment, increased Al was combined with a reduction in calcium and magnesium; a treatment designed to increase absorption of Al into the body. Administration of Al in the drinking water significantly reduced total brain biopterins and BH4 synthesis. However, no significant affect of Al in the diet on total biopterins or BH4 synthesis was found either in the rat or in the long-term study in the mouse. In addition, in the mouse no significant effects of the Al diet on levels of noradrenaline, serotonin, dopamine, 5-HIAA or CAT could be demonstrated. Hence, the occurrence of brain alterations may depend on the Al species present and the method of administration. Al salts in drinking water may increase brain tissue levels compared with the administration of a more insoluble species. Since alterations in biopterin metabolism are also a feature of Alzheimer's disease (AD) these results support the hypothesis that Al in the water supply may be a factor in AD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1075-1078
Number of pages4
JournalBiological Chemistry Hoppe-Seyler
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1992


  • neurotoxic effects
  • aluminium
  • diet
  • rat
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • absorption
  • total brain biopterins
  • BH4 synthesis


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