Waterborne manganese exposure alters plasma, brain, and liver metabolites accompanied by changes in stereotypic behaviors

Steve Fordahl, Paula Cooney, Yunping Qiu, Guoxiang Xie, Wei Jia, Keith M. Erikson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Overexposure to waterborne manganese (Mn) is linked with cognitive impairment in children and neurochemical abnormalities in other experimental models. In order to characterize the threshold between Mn-exposure and altered neurochemistry, it is important to identify biomarkers that positively correspond with brain Mn-accumulation. The objective of this study was to identify Mn-induced alterations in plasma, liver, and brain metabolites using liquid/gas chromatography-time of flight-mass spectrometry metabolomic analyses; and to monitor corresponding Mn-induced behavior changes. Weanling Sprague-Dawley rats had access to deionized drinking water either Mn-free or containing 1. g Mn/L for 6. weeks. Behaviors were monitored during the sixth week for a continuous 24. h period while in a home cage environment using video surveillance. Mn-exposure significantly increased liver, plasma, and brain Mn concentrations compared to control, specifically targeting the globus pallidus (GP). Mn significantly altered 98 metabolites in the brain, liver, and plasma; notably shifting cholesterol and fatty acid metabolism in the brain (increased oleic and palmitic acid; 12.57 and 15.48 fold change (FC), respectively), and liver (increased oleic acid, 14.51 FC; decreased hydroxybutyric acid, - 14.29 FC). Additionally, Mn-altered plasma metabolites homogentisic acid, chenodeoxycholic acid, and aspartic acid correlated significantly with GP and striatal Mn. Total distance traveled was significantly increased and positively correlated with Mn-exposure, while nocturnal stereotypic and exploratory behaviors were reduced with Mn-exposure and performed largely during the light cycle compared to unexposed rats. These data provide putative biomarkers for Mn-neurotoxicity and suggest that Mn disrupts the circadian cycle in rats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-36
Number of pages10
JournalNeurotoxicology and Teratology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavior
  • Biomarker
  • Circadian rhythm
  • Manganese
  • Metabolomics
  • Neurotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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