Objective: To evaluate in-vivo neuroinflammation and white matter (WM) microstructural integrity in occupational manganese (Mn) exposure. Methods: We assessed brain inflammation using Diffusion Basis Spectrum Imaging (DBSI) in 26 Mn-exposed welders, 17 Mn-exposed workers, and 26 non-exposed participants. Cumulative Mn exposure was estimated from work histories and the Unified Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor subsection 3 (UPDRS3) scores were completed by a movement specialist. Tract-based Spatial Statistics allowed for whole-brain voxel-wise WM analyses to compare WM DBSI-derived measures between the Mn-exposed and non-exposed groups. Exploratory grey matter region of interest (ROI) analyses examined the presence of similar alterations in the basal ganglia. We used voxelwise general linear modeling and linear regression to evaluate the association between cumulative Mn exposure, WM or basal ganglia DBSI metrics, and UPDRS3 scores, while adjusting for age. Results: Mn-exposed welders had higher DBSI-derived restricted fraction (DBSI-RF), higher DBSI-derived nonrestricted fraction (DBSI-NRF), and lower DBSI-derived fiber fraction (DBSI-FF) in multiple WM tracts (all p < 0.05) in comparison to less-exposed workers and non-exposed participants. Basal ganglia ROI analyses revealed higher average caudate DBSI-NRF and DBSI-derived radial diffusion (DBSI-RD) values in Mn-exposed welders relative to non-exposed participants (p < 0.05). Caudate DBSI-NRF was also associated with greater cumulative Mn exposure and higher UPRDS3 scores. Conclusions: Mn-exposed welders demonstrate greater DBSI-derived indicators of neuroinflammation-related cellularity (DBSI-RF), greater extracellular edema (DBSI-NRF), and lower apparent axonal density (DBSI-FF) in multiple WM tracts suggesting a neuroinflammatory component in the pathophysiology of Mn neurotoxicity. Caudate DBSI-NRF was positively associated with both cumulative Mn exposure and clinical parkinsonism, indicating a possible dose-dependent effect on extracellular edema with associated motor effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-33
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jul 2023


  • Biomarkers
  • DBSI
  • MRI
  • Manganese
  • Neurotoxicology


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