Manganese: Brain transport and emerging research needs

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174 Scopus citations


Idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) represents a common neurodegenerative disorder. An estimated 2% of the U.S. population, age 65 and older, develops IPD. The number of IPD patients will certainly increase over the next several decades as the baby-boomers gradually step into this high-risk age group, concomitant with the increase in the average life expectancy. While many studies have suggested that industrial chemicals and pesticides may underlie IPD, its etiology remains elusive. Among the toxic metals, the relationship between manganese intoxication and IPD has long been recognized. The neurological signs of manganism have received close attention because they resemble several clinical disorders collectively described as extrapyramidal motor system dysfunction, and in particular, IPD and dystonia. However, distinct dissimilarities between IPD and manganism are well established, and it remains to be determined whether Mn plays an etiologic role in IPD. It is particularly noteworthy that as a result of a recent court decision, methylcyclopentadienyl Mn tricarbonyl (MMT) is presently available in the United States and Canada for use in fuel, replacing lead as an antiknock additive. The impact of potential long-term exposure to low levels of MMT combustion products that may be present in emissions from automobiles has yet to be fully evaluated. Nevertheless, it should be pointed out that recent studies with various environmental modeling approaches in the Montreal metropolitan (where MMT has been used for more than 10 years) suggest that airborne Mn levels were quite similar to those in areas where MMT was not used. These studies also show that Mn is emitted from the tail pipe of motor vehicles primarily as a mixture of manganese phosphate and manganese sulfate. This brief review characterizes the Mn speciation in the blood and the transport kinetics of Mn into the central nervous system, a critical step in the accumulation of Mn within the brain, outlines the potential susceptibility of selected populations (e.g., iron-deficient) to Mn exposure, and addresses future research needs for Mn.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)429-432
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental health perspectives
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Manganese tricarbonyl methylcyclopentadienyl (MMT)
  • Transferrin
  • Transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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