Manganese Toxicity Upon Overexposure: a Decade in Review

Curr Environ Health Rep. 2015 Sep;2(3):315-28. doi: 10.1007/s40572-015-0056-x.


Exposure to manganese (Mn) causes clinical signs and symptoms resembling, but not identical to, Parkinson's disease. Since our last review on this subject in 2004, the past decade has been a thriving period in the history of Mn research. This report provides a comprehensive review on new knowledge gained in the Mn research field. Emerging data suggest that beyond traditionally recognized occupational manganism, Mn exposures and the ensuing toxicities occur in a variety of environmental settings, nutritional sources, contaminated foods, infant formulas, and water, soil, and air with natural or man-made contaminations. Upon fast absorption into the body via oral and inhalation exposures, Mn has a relatively short half-life in blood, yet fairly long half-lives in tissues. Recent data suggest Mn accumulates substantially in bone, with a half-life of about 8-9 years expected in human bones. Mn toxicity has been associated with dopaminergic dysfunction by recent neurochemical analyses and synchrotron X-ray fluorescent imaging studies. Evidence from humans indicates that individual factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, genetics, and pre-existing medical conditions can have profound impacts on Mn toxicities. In addition to body fluid-based biomarkers, new approaches in searching biomarkers of Mn exposure include Mn levels in toenails, non-invasive measurement of Mn in bone, and functional alteration assessments. Comments and recommendations are also provided with regard to the diagnosis of Mn intoxication and clinical intervention. Finally, several hot and promising research areas in the next decade are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorption, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Inhalation Exposure
  • Male
  • Manganese / blood
  • Manganese / pharmacokinetics
  • Manganese / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Biomarkers
  • Manganese