Aluminum-induced neurotoxicity: alterations in membrane function at the blood-brain barrier

Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1989 Spring;13(1):47-53. doi: 10.1016/s0149-7634(89)80051-x.


Aluminum is established as a neurotoxin, although the basis for its toxicity is unknown. It recently has been shown to alter the function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which regulates exchanges between the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral circulation. The BBB owes its unique properties to the integrity of the cell membranes that comprise it. Aluminum affects some of the membrane-like functions of the BBB. It increases the rate of transmembrane diffusion and selectively changes saturable transport systems without disrupting the integrity of the membranes or altering CNS hemodynamics. Such alterations in the access to the brain of nutrients, hormones, toxins, and drugs could be the basis of CNS dysfunction. Aluminum is capable of altering membrane function at the BBB; many of its effects on the CNS as well as peripheral tissues can be explained by its actions as a membrane toxin.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aluminum / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / drug effects*
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / pathology
  • Cell Membrane / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Neurotoxins*


  • Neurotoxins
  • Aluminum