Heavy Metals and Neurodegenerative Diseases: An Observational Study

Sabrina Giacoppo, Maria Galuppo, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò, Giangaetano D’Aleo, Angela Marra, Edoardo Sessa, Daniel Giuseppe Bua, Angela Giorgia Potortì, Giacomo Dugo, Placido Bramanti, Emanuela Mazzon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we evaluated the levels of some of the most investigated metals (Cu, Se, Zn, Pb, and Hg) in the blood of patients affected by the most common chronic neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and multiple sclerosis (MS), in order to better clarify their involvement. For the first time, we investigated a Sicilian population living in an area exposed to a potentially contaminated environment from dust and fumes of volcano Etna and consumer of a considerable quantity of fish in their diet, so that this represents a good cohort to demonstrate a possible link between metals levels and development of neurodegenerative disorders. More specifically, 15 patients affected by AD, 41 patients affected by MS, 23 healthy controls, and 10 healthy elderly controls were recruited and subjected to a venous blood sampling. Quantification of heavy metals was performed by Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS). This technique has allowed us to establish that there is a concomitance of heavy metal unbalance associated with AD more than in other neurodegenerative pathologies, such as MS. Also, we can assess that the concentration of these elements is independent from the diet, especially from occasional or habitual consumption of fruits and vegetables, prevalence in the diet of meat or fish, possible exposure to contaminated environment due both to the occupation and place of residence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-160
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Trace Element Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 21 2014


  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Copper, zinc superoxide dismutase enzyme (Cu/Zn SOD)
  • Heavy metals
  • Inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Multiple Sclerosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine(all)


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