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Toxicol Sci. 2009 Dec;112(2):405-15. doi: 10.1093/toxsci/kfp221. Epub 2009 Oct 7.

Developmental exposure to manganese increases adult susceptibility to inflammatory activation of glia and neuronal protein nitration.

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Center for Environmental Medicine, Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA.


Chronic exposure to manganese (Mn) produces a neurodegenerative disorder affecting the basal ganglia characterized by reactive gliosis and expression of neuroinflammatory genes including inducible nitric oxide synthase (NOS2). Induction of NOS2 in glial cells causes overproduction of nitric oxide (NO) and injury to neurons that is associated with parkinsonian-like motor deficits. Inflammatory activation of glia is believed to be an early event in Mn neurotoxicity, but specific responses of microglia and astrocytes to Mn during development remain poorly understood. In this study, we investigated the effect of juvenile exposure to Mn on the activation of glia and production of NO in C57Bl/6J mice, postulating that developmental Mn exposure would lead to heightened sensitivity to gliosis and increased expression of NOS2 in adult mice exposed again later in life. Immunohistochemical analysis indicated that Mn exposure caused increased activation of both microglia and astrocytes in the striatum (St), globus pallidus (Gp), and substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNpr) of treated mice compared with controls. More robust activation of microglia was observed in juveniles, whereas astrogliosis was more prominent in adult mice preexposed during development. Co-immunofluorescence studies demonstrated increased expression of NOS2 in glia located in the Gp and SNpr. Additionally, greater increases in the level of 3-nitrotyrosine protein adducts were detected in dopamine- and cAMP-regulated phosphoprotein-32-positive neurons of the St of Mn-treated adult mice preexposed as juveniles. These data indicate that subchronic exposure to Mn during development leads to temporally distinct patterns of glial activation that result in elevated nitrosative stress in distinct populations of basal ganglia neurons.

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