Study Finds "Some of the Highest Values for Aluminium in Human Brain Tissue Yet Recorded" in Brains of Autistic Patients

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A 15-year-old autistic boy had one tissue sample with levels of aluminum 22 times higher than those found in healthy individuals. Researchers suggest that childhood vaccines are a potential source of the toxic metal

In what scientists report as the first study of its kind, the brains of five deceased individuals who were diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder were found to contain among the highest levels of the toxic metal aluminum ever recorded.

Each donor had at least one brain tissue sample with extraordinarily high aluminum content, the team of scientists from Keele University in Staffordshire and the Department of Clinical Neuropathology at Kings College Hospital in London reported in the study published this week in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology. The researchers examined tissue samples from four different areas of the brains of autistic donors provided by the Oxford Brain Bank.

Compared to previous measurements of human brain aluminum content which have defined measurements of less than 1.00 microgram/gram dry weight as "pathologically benign," (as opposed to “normal”) about 67% of the sampled tissues had an aluminium content considered as "pathologically significant" with measurements of greater than 3.00 micrograms/gram. 

Highest readings ever

"The brains of all five individuals had at least one tissue with a pathologically-significant content of aluminium," the study reports. Four of the five individuals (four males and a female) had at least one tissue with an aluminium content greater than 5.00 micrograms dry weight. The four male donors had significantly higher concentrations of brain aluminium than the single female donor with values as high as 17.10, 18.57 and 22.11 micrograms/gram. The highest measurement of 22.11 was taken in one of the three samples from the occipital lobe of a 15-year-old boy.

“These are some of the highest values for aluminium in human brain tissue yet recorded and one has to question why, for example, the [mean] aluminium content of the occipital lobe of a 15 year old boy would be 8.74 micrograms per gram dry weight,” the study states.

Demonstrated neurotoxicity

Aluminum's toxicity to the brain and nervous system has been well documented for more than a century. While it is a common ingredient in the earth’s crust, it is bound mostly to silica in nature and it is not available in the free form that has no demonstrated benefit in humans but has extensively-documented toxicity: aluminum damages the blood brain barrier, activates brain inflammation and depresses function of mitochondria which generate energy for cells and regulate cellular metabolism.

In the 1970s, researchers realized that aluminum in dialysis solutions was the cause of a disorder called Dialysis Associated Encephalopathy (DAE) in which kidney patients undergoing dialysis developed tremors, memory loss, confusion, impaired concentration and dementia. Many of them succumbed to comas and died, but when the aluminum source of toxicity was removed from the dialysis solutions of others, they recovered rapidly. As a result, dialysis solutions today are carefully monitored to exclude any trace of the metal.

Alzheimer’s connection

Since the DAE discovery, much research has implicated aluminum as a key player in the formation of the signature amyloid "plaques" and tangles found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Earlier this year, a team working under Keele University professor of bioinorganic chemistry Christopher Exley published their findings that the brains of early-onset Alzheimer's patients contained extremely high levels of aluminum -- the highest levels recorded in human tissue until the current study of autistic brains.

“The mean aluminium content for each lobe across all 5 [autistic] individuals was towards the higher end of all previous (historical) measurements of brain aluminium content, including iatrogenic disorders such as dialysis encephalopathy,” the researchers note.

 “What discriminates these data from other analyses of brain aluminium in other diseases is the age of the ASD donors,” the researchers add. “Why, for example would a 15 year old boy have such a high content of aluminium in [his] brain tissues? There are no comparative data in the scientific literature, the closest being similarly high data for a 42-year-old male with familial Alzheimer’s disease.”

Fluorescent imaging

The researchers also used established imaging techniques to look for evidence of aluminum in samples from the brains of 10 autistic patients (three females and seven males) and found deposits of the toxic metal in at least one tissue sample from each patient.

These deposits were significantly more prevalent in the brains of males (129 in 7 individuals) than in females (21 in 3 individuals).

Images show aluminum deposited in both white and grey matter in the brain tissue and scattered both inside and outside of cells, but in ratios that differed according to sex: in female donor brains, most aluminum deposits (15/21 deposits) were located outside of cells in the brain whereas most deposits (80 of 129) were found within cells of the brain tissue of male donors.

Photographic imagery from the study shows aluminum clearly visible inside cells as either distinct deposits or as bright yellow fluorescence. Images show single-celled white blood cells loaded with aluminum in brain membranes, blood vessels and “possibly in the process of entering brain tissue from the lymphatic system,” the researchers report.

Glial cells which surround neurons and provide support for and insulation between them showed positive aluminium fluorescence in the studied samples and large, distinct deposits of aluminium measuring approximately1micrometer (mm) in diameter were clearly visible in these cell bodies and in their vicinity.

Unprecedented exposure

Previous research has implicated aluminum in autism, a neurological disorder that now affects one in 50 American children with devastating symptoms of brain damage including speech and learning disorders, tics, seizures, anxiety and obsessive compulsive behaviour. The condition was never recorded in medical literature prior to 1943.

The current British study authors cite a 2014 review paper by Canadian researchers linking the increased use of aluminum as an adjuvant in pediatric vaccines as an indirect measure of the increasing prevalence of autism. This adjuvant practice began in 1926 to provoke the immune system to respond vigorously to vaccine antigens (bits of virus or bacteria the vaccine is targeting) via a poorly understood mechanism.

Today, babies receive unprecedented multiple doses of aluminum-adjuvanted vaccines. The hepatitis B vaccine routinely given to babies within hours of their birth, for example, contains 250 micrograms of nanoparticles of the metal and this dose is repeated at two and six months of age. Each dose of DTaP vaccine given to babies at two, four, six and 15 months of age contains an additional 625 micrograms of the toxic metal. Each dose of Hib vaccine given at two, four and 12 months contains another 225 micrograms of aluminum, and so on. “Thus, babies who follow the CDC immunization schedule are injected with nearly 5,000 micrograms (5milligrams) of aluminum by 18 months of age,” writes Neil Z. Miller in a detailed report on the subject. Depending on their vaccine schedule, babies may receive up to 1,475 micrograms of aluminum at their 12 or 15 month visit, which happens to be right around the reported age that most parents and doctors first notice the onset of autism symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control confirms those numbers and cites an FDA study which found that an infant could be exposed to more than four milligrams of aluminum from vaccines in the first year of life. The agency tries to reassure parents by stating that this amount is “low” but it cannot, however, state that aluminum is non-toxic. Instead it claims the dose is safe based on a history of use in which autism (and other chronic illnesses in children) has soared exponentially.

Damaged immune systems

Only in the past 10 years have researchers begun to study the aluminum adjuvant’s mechanisms of action in vaccines and they have discovered that far from being an inert and stationary anchor holding the antigen at the injection site before it is excreted, as was believed in the past and public health still maintains, aluminum adjuvants trigger an immunological storm of events and cascades of immune activity far from the injection site.  Within hours of injection of the same aluminum oxyhydroxide in vaccines into mice, for example, armies of specialized immune cells are mobilized and within a day, a whole host of immune system players are in action – recruiting other players, sending inflammatory signals and secreting cytokines. These cytokines – inflammatory proteins that trigger other players into action with names such as interleukin-1beta and  interleukin -6, have been found at significantly higher levels in autistic patients than healthy controls and add to a growing, current body of research that autism is, at root, a disease of a dysfunctional and hyper-stimulated immune system.

Insidiously unsafe

As well, research in mice has established that following injection of the vaccine adjuvant aluminum hydroxide into mice, aluminum particles may be swallowed up by white blood cells and carried off to distant sites in the body and especially translocate into the brain tissue where they remain trapped, for years. These findings led French doctor Romain Gerhardi to sound alarm bells in his 2015 review and state that the immune system reaction to aluminum "represents a major health challenge." He added that "attempts to seriously examine safety concerns raised by the bio-persistent character and brain accumulation of alum particles have not been made” and that “much must be done to understand how, in certain individuals, alum-containing vaccines may become insidiously unsafe."

The CDC, public health advocates and mainstream doctors currently offer no explanation for the alarming growth of brain-damaged autistic children under their care in America and throughout the world. They only say with certainty that neither their vaccines, nor the toxic aluminum adjuvants they contain, could possibly be a cause and that the answer to more disease is more vaccines.

We can expect that this study along with the deluge of other evidence pointing to the toxic ingredients responsible for the rise of childhood illness will be ignored and buried from public view. In the meantime, we wait to see how high the number of parents who watch their children descend into illness must grow before change can come.

For additional research on natural solutions for Autism Spectrum Disorder, visit our database on the subject.

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