The association of bone, fingernail and blood manganese with cognitive and olfactory function in Chinese workers

Danelle Rolle-McFarland, Yingzi Liu, Farshad Mostafaei, S. Elizabeth Zauber, Yuanzhong Zhou, Yan Li, Qiyuan Fan, Wei Zheng, Linda H. Nie, Ellen M. Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Occupational manganese (Mn) exposure has been associated with cognitive and olfactory dysfunction; however, few studies have incorporated cumulative biomarkers of Mn exposure such as bone Mn (BnMn). Our goal was to assess the cross-sectional association between BnMn, blood Mn (BMn), and fingernail Mn (FMn) with cognitive and olfactory function among Mn-exposed workers. A transportable in vivo neutron activation analysis (IVNAA) system was designed and utilized to assess BnMn among 60 Chinese workers. BMn and FMn were measured using inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Cognitive and olfactory function was assessed using Animal and Fruit Naming tests, World Health Organization/University of California-Los Angeles Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT) and the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). Additional data were obtained via questionnaire. Regression models adjusted for age, education, factory of employment, and smoking status (UPSIT only), were used to assess the relationship between Mn biomarkers and test scores. In adjusted models, increasing BnMn was significantly associated with decreased performance on average AVLT scores [β (95% confidence interval (CI)) = −0.65 (−1.21, −0.09)] and Animal Naming scores [β (95% CI) = −1.54 (−3.00, −0.07)]. Increasing FMn was significantly associated with reduced performance measured by the average AVLT [β (95% CI) = −0.35 (−0.70, −0.006)] and the difference in AVLT scores [β (95% CI) = −0.40 (−0.77, −0.03)]. BMn was not significantly associated with any test scores; no significant associations were observed with Fruit Naming or UPSIT tests. BnMn and FMn, but not BMn, are associated with cognitive function in Mn-exposed workers. None of the biomarkers were significantly associated with olfactory function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1003-1010
Number of pages8
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - May 20 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • Cognitive function
  • Manganese
  • Neutron activation analysis
  • Olfactory function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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