Manganese exposure, essentiality & toxicity

Indian J Med Res. 2008 Oct;128(4):484-500.


Manganese (Mn) is an essential element present in all living organisms and is naturally present in rocks, soil, water, and food. Exposure to high oral, parenteral, or ambient air concentrations of Mn can result in elevations in Mn tissue levels and neurological effects. However, current understanding of the impact of Mn exposure on the nervous system leads to the hypothesis that there should be no adverse effects at low exposures, because Mn is an essential element; therefore, there should be some threshold for exposure above which adverse effects may occur and adverse effects may increase in frequency with higher exposures beyond that threshold. Data gaps regarding Mn neurotoxicity include what the clinical significance is of the neurobehavioural, neuropsychological, or neurological endpoints measured in many of the occupational studies that have evaluated cohorts exposed to relatively low levels of Mn. Specific early biomarkers of effect, such as subclinical neurobehavioural or neurological changes or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) changes have not been established or validated for Mn, although some studies have attempted to correlate biomarkers with neurological effects. Experimental studies with rodents and monkeys provide valuable information about the absorption, bioavailability, and tissue distribution of various Mn compounds with different solubilities and oxidation states in different age groups. Studies have shown that rodents and primates maintain stable tissue manganese levels as a result of homeostatic mechanisms that tightly regulate absorption and excretion. In addition, physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models are being developed to provide for the ability to conduct route-to-route extrapolations, evaluate nasal uptake to the CNS, and evaluate lifestage differences in Mn pharmacokinetics. Such models will facilitate more rigorous quantitative analysis of the available pharmacokinetic data for Mn and will be used to identify situations that may lead to increased brain accumulation related to altered Mn metabolism in different human populations, and develop quantitatively accurate predictions of increased Mn levels that may serve as a basis of dosimetry-based risk assessments. Such assessments will permit for the development of more scientifically refined and robust recommendations, guidelines, and regulations for Mn levels in the ambient environment and occupational settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Central Nervous System / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Manganese / physiology*
  • Manganese / toxicity*


  • Manganese