Chronic manganese (Mn) exposure is associated with neuromotor and neurocognitive deficits, but the exact mechanism of Mn neurotoxicity is still unclear. With the advent of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in-vivo analysis of brain structures has become possible. Among different sub-cortical structures, the basal ganglia (BG) has been investigated as a putative anatomical biomarker in MR-based studies of Mn toxicity. However, previous investigations have yielded inconsistent results in terms of regional MR signal intensity changes. These discrepancies may be due to the subtlety of brain alterations caused by Mn toxicity, coupled to analysis techniques that lack the requisite detection power. Here, based on brain MRI, we apply a 3D surface-based morphometry method on 3 bilateral basal ganglia structures in school-age children chronically exposed to Mn through drinking water to investigate the effect of Mn exposure on brain anatomy. Our method successfully pinpointed significant enlargement of many areas of the basal ganglia structures, preferentially affecting the putamen. Moreover, these areas showed significant correlations with fine motor performance, indicating a possible link between altered basal ganglia neurodevelopment and declined motor performance in high Mn exposed children.
ASJC Scopus subject areas