YAC128 mouse model of Huntington disease is protected against subtle chronic manganese (Mn)-induced behavioral and neuropathological changes

Neurotoxicology. 2021 Dec;87:94-105. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2021.09.002. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


Manganese (Mn) is an essential micronutrient but excessive levels induce neurotoxic effects. Increasing evidence suggests a deficit of bioavailable Mn in Huntington disease (HD), an inherited neurodegenerative disease characterized by motor and cognitive disturbances. Previous studies have shown rescue of some molecular HD phenotypes by acute Mn exposure. This study simultaneously examined the potential for chronic Mn exposure to attenuate HD behavioral phenotypes, and for the HD genotype to offer protection against detrimental effects of chronic Mn exposure. In two independent studies a chronic Mn exposure paradigm was implemented in the YAC128 mouse model of HD and behavior was assessed at several timepoints. Study 1 exposed WT and YAC128 mice to twice weekly subcutaneous injections of 0, 5, 15, or 50 mg/kg MnCl[2] tetrahydrate from 12 to 32 weeks of age. A promising protective effect against motor coordination decline in 5 mg/kg MnCl[2] tetrahydrate-treated YAC128 mice was detected. Study 2 thus exposed WT and YAC128 mice to either 0 or 5 mg/kg MnCl[2] tetrahydrate from 12 to 52 weeks of age (with a partial randomized treatment crossover at 31 weeks). The same protective effect was not observed under these conditions at higher statistical power. We report subtle toxicological changes in exploratory behavior and total activity induced by chronic Mn exposure in WT mice only, despite similar total increases in brain Mn in WT and YAC128 mice. Further, chronic Mn treatment resulted in a 10-12 % decrease in striatal NeuN positive cell density in WT mice but not YAC128 mice, despite vehicle cell counts already being reduced compared to WT mice as expected for the HD genotype. The subtle changes observed in specific outcome measures, but not others, following long-term low-level Mn exposure in WT mice delineate the neurobehavioral and neuropathological effects at the threshold of chronic Mn toxicity. We conclude that these chronic low-dose Mn exposures do not significantly rescue behavioral HD phenotypes, but YAC2128 mice are protected against the subtle Mn-induced behavioral changes and decreased striatal neuron density observed in Mn-exposed WT mice.

Keywords: Behavior; Huntington disease; Manganese; YAC128; striatum.

Publication types

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