Alteration of iron homeostasis following chronic exposure to manganese in rats

Wei Zheng, Qiuqu Zhao, Vesna Slavkovich, Michael Aschner, Joseph H. Graziano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that manganese-induced neurodegenerative toxicity may be partly due to its action on aconitase, which participates in cellular iron regulation and mitochondrial energy production. This study was performed to investigate whether chronic manganese exposure in rats influenced the homeostasis of iron in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Groups of 8-10 rats received intraperitoneal injections of MnCl2 at the dose of 6 mg Mn/kg/day or equal volume of saline for 30 days. Concentrations of manganese and iron in plasma and CSF were determined by atomic absorption spectrophotometry. Rats exposed to manganese showed a greatly elevated manganese concentration in both plasma and CSF. The magnitude of increase in CSF manganese (11-fold) was equivalent to that of plasma (10-fold). Chronic manganese exposure resulted in a 32% decrease in plasma iron (p < 0.01) and no changes in plasma total iron binding capacity (TIBC). However, it increased CSF iron by 3-fold as compared to the controls (p < 0.01). Northern blot analyses of whole brain homogenates revealed a 34% increase in the expression of glutamine synthetase (p < 0.05) with unchanged metallothionein- I in manganese-intoxicated rats. When the cultured choroidal epithelial cells derived from rat choroid plexus were incubated with MnCl2 (100 μM) for four days, the expression of transferrin receptor mRNA appeared to exceed by 50% that of control (p < 0.002). The results indicate that chronic manganese exposure alters iron homeostasis possibly by expediting unidirectional influx of iron from the systemic circulation to cerebral compartment. The action appears likely to be mediated by manganese-facilitated iron transport at brain barrier systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-132
Number of pages8
JournalBrain research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 26 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebrospinal fluid
  • Choroid plexus
  • Glutamine synthetase
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Transferrin receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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