Manganese (Mn) is an essential ubiquitous trace element that is required for normal growth, development and cellular homeostasis. Exposure to high Mn levels causes a clinical disease characterized by extrapyramidal symptom resembling idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD). The present review focuses on the role of various transporters in maintaining brain Mn homeostasis along with recent methodological advances in real-time measurements of intracellular Mn levels. We also provide an overview on the role for Mn in IPD, discussing the similarities (and differences) between manganism and IPD, and the relationship between α-synuclein and Mn-related protein aggregation, as well as mitochondrial dysfunction, Mn and PD. Additional sections of the review discuss the link between Mn and Huntington's disease (HD), with emphasis on huntingtin function and the potential role for altered Mn homeostasis and toxicity in HD. We conclude with a brief survey on the potential role of Mn in the etiologies of Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and prion disease. Where possible, we discuss the mechanistic commonalities inherent to Mn-induced neurotoxicity and neurodegenerative disorders.
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