Background: Manganese (Mn) can have neurotoxic effects upon overexposure. We previously reported poorer cognitive and motor development in children exposed to Mn through drinking water, suggesting possible neurotoxic effects from Mn in water. Hyperintensity in the globus pallidus (GP) on T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) indicates excessive brain Mn accumulation. Previous studies have reported GP hyperintensity related to Mn exposure in occupationally exposed individuals. However, no study has used MRI in children exposed to Mn in drinking water and who show no sign of overt intoxication.
Objective: To examine MRI signal intensity in the GP in children exposed to contrasted levels of Mn in drinking water.
Methods: We enrolled 13 children exposed to low Mn concentration in water and 10 children (ages 9-15 years) with high concentration (median of 1 and 145μg/L, respectively). We calculated three MRI T1 indexes: (i) standard pallidal index (PI) using frontal white matter as reference; (ii) PI using pericranial muscles as reference; and (iii) T1 relaxation time. Each MRI index was compared between exposure groups, and with respect to the estimated Mn intake from water consumption.
Results: The standard PI did not differ between Mn-exposure groups. However, children in the group with high water-Mn concentration had significantly lower pericranial muscles PI than those with lower exposure and, accordingly, higher T1 relaxation time. Mn intake from water consumption was not correlated with the standard PI, but was significantly related to the pericranial muscles PI and T1 relaxation time. Motor performance was significantly lower in the high-exposure group.
Conclusion: We observed lower signal intensity in the GP of children with higher exposure to Mn from drinking water. This result stands in contrast to previous MRI reports showing GP hyperintensity with greater Mn exposure. Differences in exposure pathways are discussed as a potential explanation for this discrepancy.
Dion LA, Bouchard MF, Sauvé S, Barbeau B, Tucholka A, Major P, Gilbert G, Mergler D, Saint-Amour D. MRI pallidal signal in children exposed to manganese in drinking water. Neurotoxicology. 2016 Mar;53:124-131. doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2016.01.004