How aluminum, an intracellular ROS generator promotes hepatic and neurological diseases: the metabolic tale

Cell Biol Toxicol. 2013 Apr;29(2):75-84. doi: 10.1007/s10565-013-9239-0. Epub 2013 Mar 6.


Metal pollutants are a global health risk due to their ability to contribute to a variety of diseases. Aluminum (Al), a ubiquitous environmental contaminant is implicated in anemia, osteomalacia, hepatic disorder, and neurological disorder. In this review, we outline how this intracellular generator of reactive oxygen species (ROS) triggers a metabolic shift towards lipogenesis in astrocytes and hepatocytes. This Al-evoked phenomenon is coupled to diminished mitochondrial activity, anerobiosis, and the channeling of α-ketoacids towards anti-oxidant defense. The resulting metabolic reconfiguration leads to fat accumulation and a reduction in ATP synthesis, characteristics that are common to numerous medical disorders. Hence, the ability of Al toxicity to create an oxidative environment promotes dysfunctional metabolic processes in astrocytes and hepatocytes. These molecular events triggered by Al-induced ROS production are the potential mediators of brain and liver disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / chemistry
  • Aluminum / metabolism
  • Aluminum / toxicity*
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Dyslipidemias / chemically induced
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Hepatocytes / drug effects
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Lipogenesis / drug effects
  • Liver Diseases
  • Mitochondria / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Diseases / chemically induced
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism*


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Aluminum