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J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2010 Apr;20(2):113-8. doi: 10.1089/cap.2009.0073.

Manganese in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: relationship with methylphenidate exposure.

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Department of Neuropsychopharmacology, Pelé Pequeno Príncipe Research Institute, Av. Silva Jardim 1632, Curitiba, Parana, Brazil.


Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a common neurobehavioral disorder that affects children worldwide. The etiology of ADHD is complex and not fully understood. Earlier studies associated elevated levels of manganese (Mn) with learning problems, attention deficits, and ADHD. Furthermore, it has also been shown that the dopamine (DA) system, the primary site of action of pharmacological ADHD treatments, is influenced by high levels of Mn. Recent studies have suggested that Mn accumulates in dopaminergic neurons via the presynaptic dopamine transporter (DAT). A role for altered functioning of the dopaminergic system in the etiology of ADHD has been well established through neurochemical, neurophysiological, imaging, and genetics studies. Methylphenidate (MPH) is a psychostimulant commonly used to manage ADHD symptoms. The pharmacotherapeutic effect of MPH occurs primarily through its action of inhibiting DAT, and thus increasing dopamine, as well as other catecholamines, at the synapse. We assessed a group of children with ADHD and matched control children without psychopathology attending public schools in a southern Brazilian city and reported elevated serum concentrations of Mn in treatment-naïve children with ADHD compared to normal controls. Interestingly, children with ADHD receiving concurrent MPH showed no difference in Mn serum levels versus controls. We then prospectively assessed the impact of naturalistic treatment with MPH and determined that Mn concentrations were significantly reduced from baseline values following MPH exposure.

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