Also Known As: Aluminium hydroxide, Basaljel, Pepsamar, Alu-Cap, Aludrox
This compound is used as an antacid under names such as Alu-Cap, Aludrox or Pepsamar. The hydroxide reacts with excess acid in the stomach, reducing its acidity. This decrease of acidity of the contents of the stomach may in turn help to relieve the symptoms of ulcers, heartburn or dyspepsia. It can also cause constipation and is therefore often used with magnesium hydroxide or magnesium carbonate, which have counterbalancing laxative effects. This compound is also used to control phosphate (phosphorus) levels in the blood of people suffering from kidney failure.
Precipitated aluminium hydroxide is included as an adjuvant in some vaccines (e.g. anthrax vaccine). One of the well-known brands of aluminium hydroxide adjuvant is Alhydrogel, made by Brenntag. Since it absorbs protein well, it also functions to stabilize vaccines by preventing the proteins in the vaccine from precipitating or sticking to the walls of the container during storage. Aluminium hydroxide is often mis-called "alum" even by researchers; however, "alum" properly refers to aluminium potassium sulfate (alum). The aluminium hydroxide causes adsorption of antigens made of proteins, which slows the release of the antigen from the injection site (the "depot effect"), as well as causing a nonspecific irritation to the immune system. Vaccine formulations containing aluminium hydroxide stimulates the immune system by inducing the release of uric acid, an immunological danger signal. This strongly attracts certain types of monocytes which differentiate into dendritic cells. The DCs pick up the antigen, carry it to lymph nodes, and stimulate T cells and B cells. It appears to contribute to induction of a good Th2 response, so is useful for immunizing against pathogens that are blocked by antibodies. However, it has little capacity to stimulate cellular (Th1) immune responses, important for protection against many pathogens, nor is it useful when the antigen is peptide-based.[13