Disease-toxicant screen reveals a neuroprotective interaction between Huntington's disease and manganese exposure

B. Blairanne Williams, Daphne Li, Michal Wegrzynowicz, Bhavin K. Vadodaria, Joel G. Anderson, Gunnar F. Kwakye, Michael Aschner, Keith M. Erikson, Aaron B. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Recognizing the similarities between Huntington's disease (HD) pathophysiology and the neurotoxicology of various metals, we hypothesized that they may exhibit disease-toxicant interactions revealing cellular pathways underlying neurodegeneration. Here, we utilize metals and the STHdh mouse striatal cell line model of HD to perform a gene-environment interaction screen. We report that striatal cells expressing mutant Huntingtin exhibit elevated sensitivity to cadmium toxicity and resistance to manganese toxicity. This neuroprotective gene-environment interaction with manganese is highly specific, as it does not occur with iron, copper, zinc, cobalt, cadmium, lead, or nickel ions. Analysis of the Akt cell stress signaling pathway showed diminished activation with manganese exposure and elevated activation after cadmium exposure in the mutant cells. Direct examination of intracellular manganese levels found that mutant cells have a significant impairment in manganese accumulation. Furthermore, YAC128Q mice, a HD model, showed decreased total striatal manganese levels following manganese exposure relative to wild-type mice. Thus, this disease-toxicant interaction screen has revealed that expression of mutant Huntingtin results in heightened sensitivity to cadmium neurotoxicity and a selective impairment of manganese accumulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Gene-environment Interactions
  • Huntington's disease
  • Manganese
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroprotection
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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