High levels of aluminium in the urine of people with multiple sclerosis (MS) could lead to a better understanding of the process of the disease.
Research conducted at Keele University revealed the possibility of a connection between human exposure to aluminium and MS.
Sufferers were found to have extremely high levels of the substance in their urine, demonstrating levels of up to 40 times the usual amount, with iron levels also shown to be increased.
Higher levels of aluminium were particularly evident in those with the relapsing-remitting form of MS, while iron excretions were raised in the secondary progressive form.
Meanwhile, levels of silicon, which helps to counteract the toxicity, were much lower, indicating a link between aluminium and changes within the body.
"If, as is currently believed, MS is a disorder resulting from the interplay between the environment and susceptibility genes then our observation of elevated excretion of iron may be indicative of the latter," explained Dr Christopher Exley.
"While elevated excretion of aluminium suggests that exposure to aluminium may be the hitherto unrecognised environmental factor in MS."