Manganese and the brain

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2013;110:277-312. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-410502-7.00013-2.


Manganese (Mn) is an essential trace metal that is pivotal for normal cell function and metabolism. Its homeostasis is tightly regulated; however, the mechanisms of Mn homeostasis are poorly characterized. While a number of proteins such as the divalent metal transporter 1, the transferrin/transferrin receptor complex, the ZIP family metal transporters ZIP-8 and ZIP-14, the secretory pathway calcium ATPases SPCA1 and SPCA2, ATP13A2, and ferroportin have been suggested to play a role in Mn transport, the degree that each of them contributes to Mn homeostasis has still to be determined. The recent discovery of SLC30A10 as a crucial Mn transporter in humans has shed further light on our understanding of Mn transport across the cell. Although essential, Mn is toxic at high concentrations. Mn neurotoxicity has been attributed to impaired dopaminergic (DAergic), glutamatergic and GABAergic transmission, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, and neuroinflammation. As a result of preferential accumulation of Mn in the DAergic cells of the basal ganglia, particularly the globus pallidus, Mn toxicity causes extrapyramidal motor dysfunction. Firstly described as "manganism" in miners during the nineteenth century, this movement disorder resembles Parkinson's disease characterized by hypokinesia and postural instability. To date, a variety of acquired causes of brain Mn accumulation can be distinguished from an autosomal recessively inherited disorder of Mn metabolism caused by mutations in the SLC30A10 gene. Both, acquired and inherited hypermanganesemia, lead to Mn deposition in the basal ganglia associated with pathognomonic magnetic resonance imaging appearances of hyperintense basal ganglia on T1-weighted images. Current treatment strategies for Mn toxicity combine chelation therapy to reduce the body Mn load and iron (Fe) supplementation to reduce Mn binding to proteins that interact with both Mn and Fe. This chapter summarizes our current understanding of Mn homeostasis and the mechanisms of Mn toxicity and highlights the clinical disorders associated with Mn neurotoxicity.

Keywords: Iron; Manganese; Manganism; Neurotoxicity; Parkinsonism; SLC30A10.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Manganese / metabolism*
  • Manganese / toxicity
  • Manganese Poisoning / metabolism*


  • Manganese