Does human exposure to aluminium have a role to play in autism spectrum disorder (ASD)? Research at Keele University published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology provides the strongest indication yet that aluminium is an aetiological agent in ASD. The aluminium content of brain tissues from 5 donors who died with a diagnosis of ASD was found to be extraordinarily high, some of the highest values yet measured in human brain tissue. Why for example, would the occipital lobe of a 15 year old boy with autism be 8.74 (11.59) micrograms/g dry wt., a value which is at least 10 times higher than might be considered as acceptable for an aged adult never mind a child?

However, while the aluminium content of each of the 5 brains was shockingly high it was the location of the aluminium in the brain tissue which served as the standout observation. The majority of aluminium was identified inside non-neuronal cells including microglia and astrocytes.

Aluminium was also found in lymphocytes in the meninges and in similar inflammatory cells in the vasculature. There was clear evidence of inflammatory cells heavily loaded with aluminium entering the brain via the meningeal membranes and the blood-brain-barrier.

The fact that the majority of aluminium found in brain tissues in ASD was intracellular and associated with non-neuronal cells is, at least for now, unique to ASD and may begin to explain why young adolescents had so much aluminium in their brains.

Perhaps there is something within the genetic make-up of specific individuals which predisposes them to accumulate and retain aluminium in their brain, as is similarly suggested for individuals with familial Alzheimer's disease. The new evidence strongly suggests that aluminium is entering the brain in ASD via pro-inflammatory cells which have become loaded up with aluminium in the blood and/or lymph, much as has been demonstrated for monocytes at injection sites for vaccines including aluminium adjuvants. Perhaps we now have the putative link between vaccination and ASD, the link being the inclusion of an aluminium adjuvant in the vaccine.