Movement abnormalities caused by chronic manganese (Mn) intoxication clinically resemble but are not identical to those in idiopathic Parkinson's disease. In fact, the most successful parkinsonian drug treatment, the dopamine precursor levodopa, is ineffective in alleviating Mn-induced motor symptoms, implying that parkinsonism in Mn-exposed individuals may not be linked to midbrain dopaminergic neuron cell loss. Over the last decade, supporting evidence from human and nonhuman primates has emerged that Mn-induced parkinsonism partially results from damage to basal ganglia nuclei of the striatal "direct pathway" (ie, the caudate/putamen, internal globus pallidus, and substantia nigra pars reticulata) and a marked inhibition of striatal dopamine release in the absence of nigrostriatal dopamine terminal degeneration. Recent neuroimaging studies have revealed similar findings in a particular group of young drug users intravenously injecting the Mn-containing psychostimulant ephedron and in individuals with inherited mutations of the Mn transporter gene SLC30A10. This review will provide a detailed discussion about the aforementioned studies, followed by a comparison with their rodent analogs and idiopathic parkinsonism. Together, these findings in combination with a limited knowledge about the underlying neuropathology of Mn-induced parkinsonism strongly support the need for a more complete understanding of the neurotoxic effects of Mn on basal ganglia function to uncover the appropriate cellular and molecular therapeutic targets for this disorder.
Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; SLC30A10 mutation; dopamine; dystonia; ephedron; manganese.
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