In vivomeasurement of bone aluminum in population living in southern Ontario, Canada
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The harmful biological effect of excessive aluminum (Al) load in humans has been well documented in the literature. Al stored in bone, for instance due to dialysis treatment or occupational exposure, can interfere with normal bone remodeling leading to osteodystrophy, osteoarthritis, or osteomalacia. On the other hand, the relationship between chronic Al exposure and the risk of Alzheimer's disease remains controversial. In this work, the feasibility of in vivo neutron activation analysis (IVNAA) for measuring Al levels in the human hand bone, using the thermal neutron capture reaction 27Al(n, gamma)28 Al, is reported. This noninvasive diagnostic technique employs a high beam current Tandetron accelerator based neutron source, an irradiation/shielding cavity, a 47pi NaI(Tl) detector system, and a new set of hand bone phantoms. The photon spectra of the irradiated phantom closely resemble those collected from the hands of nonexposed healthy subjects. A protocol was developed using the newly developed hand phantoms, which resulted in a minimum detectable limit (MDL) of 0.29 mg Al in the human hand. Using the ratio of Al to Ca as an index of Al levels per unit bone mass, the MDL was determined as 19.5 +/- 1.5 microg Al/g Ca, which is within the range of the measured levels of 20-27 microg Al/g Ca [ICRP Report of the Task Group on Reference Man, Publication 23 (Pergamon, Oxford, 1975)] found in other in vivo and in vitro studies. Following the feasibility studies conducted with phantoms, the diagnostic technique was used to measure Al levels in the hand bones of 20 healthy human subjects. The mean hand bone Al concentration was determined as 27.1 +/- 16.1 (+/-1 SD) microg Al/g Ca. The average standard error (1sigma) in the Al/Ca is 14.0 microg Al/g Ca, which corresponds to an average relative error of 50% in the measured levels of Al/Ca. These results were achieved with a dose equivalent of 17.6 mSv to a hand and an effective dose of 14.4 microSv. This effective dose is approximately half of that received in a chest radiograph examination. It is recommended to investigate the use of the bone Al IVNAA diagnostic technique for in vivo measurements of patients with documented overload of Al in bone.
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