Gut: An underestimated target organ for Aluminum

Morphologie. 2016 Jun;100(329):75-84. doi: 10.1016/j.morpho.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Mar 9.


Since World War II, several factors such as an impressive industrial growth, an enhanced environmental bioavailability and intensified food consumption have contributed to a significant amplification of human exposure to aluminum. Aluminum is particularly present in food, beverages, some drugs and airbone dust. In our food, aluminum is superimposed via additives and cooking utensils. Therefore, the tolerable intake of aluminum is exceeded for a significant part of the world population, especially in children who are more vulnerable to toxic effects of pollutants than adults. Faced with this oral aluminum influx, intestinal tract is an essential barrier, especially as 38% of ingested aluminum accumulates at the intestinal mucosa. Although still poorly documented to date, the impact of oral exposure to aluminum in conditions relevant to real human exposure appears to be deleterious for gut homeostasis. Aluminum ingestion affects the regulation of the permeability, the microflora and the immune function of intestine. Nowadays, several arguments are consistent with an involvement of aluminum as an environmental risk factor for inflammatory bowel diseases.

Keywords: Aluminium; Aluminum; Colite; Colitis; Exposition orale; Homéostasie intestinale; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Intestinal homeostasis; Maladies inflammatoires chroniques de l’intestin; Oral exposure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aluminum Compounds / pharmacokinetics*
  • Aluminum Compounds / toxicity*
  • Animals
  • Beverages / standards
  • Biological Availability
  • Child
  • Cooking and Eating Utensils
  • Crohn Disease / chemically induced*
  • Crohn Disease / veterinary
  • Dust
  • Eating
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Pollutants / toxicity
  • Food / standards
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / drug effects*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Horses
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / epidemiology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / physiopathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / chemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / physiopathology
  • Risk Factors


  • Aluminum Compounds
  • Dust
  • Environmental Pollutants