There is a long (and perhaps regrettable) history of the injection of aluminium salts into brain tissue in animal (including primates) models of human epilepsy. With this in mind, it may be surprising that our recent research (https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/16/12/2129) is the first to measure and identify aluminium in human epilepsy. We present a case report of another victim of the Camelford water-poisoning incident (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/neurology/camelford-britains-forgotten-aluminium-scandal/) where an exposed individual developed adult onset epilepsy and died following an epileptic seizure. The hippocampus was the main target for aluminium where it had accumulated to pathologically significant concentrations. Aluminium-specific fluorescence showed that aluminium was loaded into glial cells as well as being associated with deposits of neuronal/cellular debris. The hippocampus is an important target in epilepsy and our observation of the selective accumulation of aluminium in this region of the brain must raise the possibility that aluminium plays a role in the disease. Previous research implicating aluminium in human epilepsy would include our work on aluminium in brain tissue in autism (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/infection-disease/aluminium-and-autism/), research linking Dravet’s disease with aluminium adjuvants in vaccines (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/infection-disease/safety-concerns-aluminium-adjuvants/) and early research identifying high blood aluminium in epilepsy. Future research should investigate human exposure to aluminium and epilepsy and specifically post mortem if brain aluminium is consistently elevated in the disease.
Regarding the aluminium poisoning at Camelford in 1998 we have now investigated three donated brains from exposed individuals and we have measured elevated aluminium in all three. The brain tissues in these individuals were all characterised by unusual neuronal pathologies associated with cerebral amyloid angiopathy (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/neurology/camelford-britains-forgotten-aluminium-scandal/), sporadic Alzheimer’s disease (https://www.hippocraticpost.com/ageing/airborne-aluminium-exposure/) and herein, adult onset epilepsy. It is surely time that a thorough investigation of health effects emanating from Camelford is initiated.
Honorary Professor, UHI Millennium Institute
Group Leader - Bioinorganic Chemistry Laboratory at Keele