Iliac bone aluminium was determined by neutron activation analysis in 34 patients with chronic renal failure and in eight control subjects. In 17 patients treated by haemodialysis there was a significant increase in the amount of aluminium (mean +/- SE = 152 +/- 30 ppm bone ash). In eight patients treated by haemodialysis and subsequent renal transplantation, bone aluminium was still significantly increased (92 +/- 4.5 ppm bone ash) but was less than in the haemodialysed patients. In some patients aluminium persisted in bone for many years after successful renal transplantation. There was no relationship between hyperparathyroidism and bone aluminium. Although no statistically significant relationship was found between the mineralisation status of bone and bone aluminium, patients dialysed for the longest periods tended to be those with the highest levels of aluminium, osteomalacia, and dialysis encephalopathy. In 20 rats given daily intraperitoneal injections of aluminium chloride for periods of up to three months, there was accumulation of aluminium in bone (163 +/- 9 ppm ash) to levels comparable to those obtained in the dialysis patients, and after about eight weeks osteomalacia developed. The increased bone aluminium and osteomalacia persisted after injections had been stopped for up to 49 days, although endochondral ossification was restored to normal. As a working hypothesis it is suggested that aluminium retained in the bone of the dialysis patients and the experimental animals interferes with normal mineralisation.
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