Today’s Research – Researchers study effects of manganese on brain

August 20, 2012 at 9:30 am Leave a comment

Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine are actively working in Hershey, with colleagues at Penn State, University Park and other Penn State campuses, and with colleagues at various institutions across the country to conduct groundbreaking research. Their discoveries continue to contribute to the advancement of health care on all levels.

College of Medicine scientists are researching the effects of the metal manganese on brain functions. This research builds on the results of an earlier, smaller-scale study that looked at welders. Research has indicated that environmental factors, including metals toxic to the neurological system, may play a role in the cause of neurobehavioral disorders. In a preliminary study, Xuemei Huang, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues looked at a small group of welders and found an association between exposure to manganese-containing metal fumes and decreased motor performance on a test for dexterity/fine motor control in the welders.

The team’s prior study suggests that there is manganese accumulation in many other regions of the brain in welders who are showing no classic symptoms of overexposure, specifically in a part of the brain associated with smell. This suggests that at least some of the manganese is getting into the brain through inhalation. They also showed manganese in the areas of the brain associated with motor control, which correlates to the decreased motor control observed.

The initial study was supported by National Institute of Environmental Sciences, with additional support from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke and the Penn State General Clinical Research Center (now the Penn State Clinical and Translational Science Institute), and results were published in the scientific journal Toxicological Sciences. The current study has received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Sciences.

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