Issue 2, 2013

Mechanisms of lead and manganese neurotoxicity


Human exposure to neurotoxic metals is a global public health problem. Metals which cause neurological toxicity, such as lead (Pb) and manganese (Mn), are of particular concern due to the long-lasting and possibly irreversible nature of their effects. Pb exposure in childhood can result in cognitive and behavioural deficits in children. These effects are long-lasting and persist into adulthood even after Pb exposure has been reduced or eliminated. While Mn is an essential element of the human diet and serves many cellular functions in the human body, elevated Mn levels can result in a Parkinson's disease (PD)-like syndrome and developmental Mn exposure can adversely affect childhood neurological development. Due to the ubiquitous presence of both metals, reducing human exposure to toxic levels of Mn and Pb remains a world-wide public health challenge. In this review we summarize the toxicokinetics of Pb and Mn, describe their neurotoxic mechanisms, and discuss common themes in their neurotoxicity.

Graphical abstract: Mechanisms of lead and manganese neurotoxicity

Additions and corrections

Article information

Article type
Review Article
22 Aug 2012
28 Dec 2012
First published
03 Jan 2013

Toxicol. Res., 2013,2, 99-114