Changes in rat urinary porphyrin profiles predict the magnitude of the neurotoxic effects induced by a mixture of lead, arsenic and manganese

Vanda Andrade, M. Luísa Mateus, M. Camila Batoréu, Michael Aschner, A. P. Marreilha dos Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The neurotoxic metals lead (Pb), arsenic (As) and manganese (Mn) are ubiquitous contaminants occurring as mixtures in environmental settings. The three metals may interfere with enzymes of the heme bioshyntetic pathway, leading to excessive porphyrin accumulation, which per se may trigger neurotoxicity. Given the multi-mechanisms associated with metal toxicity, we posited that a single biomarker is unlikely to predict neurotoxicity that is induced by a mixture of metals. Our objective was to evaluate the ability of a combination of urinary porphyrins to predict the magnitude of motor activity impairment induced by a mixture of Pb/As/Mn. Five groups of Wistar rats were treated for 8 days with Pb (5. mg/kg), As (60. mg/L) or Mn (10. mg/kg), and the 3-metal mixture (same doses as the single metals) along with a control group. Motor activity was evaluated after the administration of the last dose and 24-hour (h) urine was also collected after the treatments. Porphyrin profiles were determined both in the urine and brain. Rats treated with the metal-mixture showed a significant decrease in motor parameters compared with controls and the single metal-treated groups. Both brain and urinary porphyrin levels, when combined and analyzed by multiple linear regressions, were predictable of motor activity (p<. 0.05). The magnitude of change in urinary porphyrin profiles was consistent with the greatest impairments in motor activity as determined by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves, with a sensitivity of 88% and a specificity of 96%. Our work strongly suggests that the use of a linear combination of urinary prophyrin levels accurately predicts the magnitude of motor impairments in rats that is induced by a mixture of Pb, As and Mn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-177
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Dec 1 2014


  • Lead, arsenic and manganese metal mixture
  • Neurotoxicity
  • Urinary porphyrin profiles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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