Manganese in its divalent state (Mn2+) has features that make it a unique tool for tracing neuronal pathways. It is taken up and transported by neurons in an activity dependent manner and it can cross synapses. It also acts as a contrast agent for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) enabling visualization of neuronal tracts. However, due to the limited sensitivity of MRI systems relatively high Mn2+ doses are required. This is undesirable, especially in long-term studies, because of the known toxicity of the metal. In order to overcome this limitation, we propose 52Mn as a positron emission tomography (PET) neuronal tract tracer. We used 52Mn for imaging dopaminergic pathways after a unilateral injection into the ventral tegmental area (VTA), as well as the striatonigral pathway after an injection into the dorsal striatum (STR) in rats. Furthermore, we tested potentially noxious effects of the radioactivity dose with a behavioral test and histological staining. 24 h after 52Mn administration, the neuronal tracts were clearly visible in PET images and statistical analysis confirmed the observed distribution of the tracer. We noticed a behavioral impairment in some animals treated with 170 kBq of 52Mn, most likely caused by dysfunction of dopaminergic cells. Moreover, there was a substantial DNA damage in the brain tissue after applying 150 kBq of the tracer. However, all those effects were completely eliminated by reducing the 52Mn dose to 20-30 kBq. Crucially, the reduced dose was still sufficient for PET imaging.
- Manganese toxicity
- Neuronal pathways